Nashville SC falls to NY Red Bulls

The unbeaten streak for Nashville SC ended at seven matches.

After a three-week international break, Nashville was left chasing the hyper and fast-paced New York Red Bulls, losing 2-0.

Out of 34 matches played in MLS, Nashville (2-5-1) has lost by two goals or more just four times. The most recent was Sept. 19 last season against the Columbus Crew.

The Red Bulls’ Fábio and Kyle Duncan scored goals for New York.

Nashville entered halftime trailing for the fourth time this season. It came from behind against FC Cincinnati, CF Montreal and Atlanta United.

“When you’re a goal or two down, as we’ve been in previous games, somebody’s got to step up and and get us back into the game,” coach Gary Smith said after the match. “But, maybe this is one game too many, where we’ve been asked to recover two goals. We just can’t do it all the time.”

Smith said winger Randall Leal’s shot inside the 18-yard box in the 61st minute was Nashville’s best chance. Hany Mukhtar hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute, missing that free kick as Nashville’s lone shot on goal. The club finished with eight shots total.

CJ Sapong (foot) played 77 minutes before Abu Danladi replaced him for his first minutes of the season due to multiple injuries.

Sapong trained just one time during the MLA hiatus, Smith said, and Nashville SC already was without center forwards Daniel Rios (groin), Dom Badji (ankle) and Jhonder Cádiz (international duty, Venezuela).

Smith also said center back Walker Zimmerman returned from U.S. Men’s National Team duty with a minor injury (abdomen), which is why the reigning MLS Defender of the Year was substituted for Jalil Anibaba in the 63rd minute.

Brazilian center forward Fábio didn’t wait for the ball to touch the ground before curling it with the outside of his foot and past goalkeeper Joe Willis.

Red Bull center back Sean Nealis, older brother of Nashville fullback Dylan Nealis, kicked the ball along the left sideline, which found forward Patryk Klimala, sealing Zimmerman behind him. As he fell to the floor, the Polish striker kicked the ball in the air toward Fábio, who finished the goal.

“It’s unfortunate,” center back Dave Romney said. “Some goals, you just have to tip your hat. We obviously could have done better as a team, probably by shifting over more. Guys could have won their battles. But at the end of the day, it’s a half chance that a guy makes an amazing finish on. Joe (Willis) couldn’t do anything about it.”

Red Bulls had nearly 60% of possession on Friday, pinging long balls into its attackers to apply pressure on Romney and Zimmerman. New York made 13 open-play crosses, compared to Nashville’s three.

“In typical New York Red Bull fashion, they just wanted to create chaos,” Romney said. “Just get the ball in the dangerous areas just kind of play kickball, just make things happen.”

The club’s top 2021 MLS SuperDraft pick made his debut Friday.

Koze Donasiyano, a central midfielder selected No. 20 overall out of Virginia, replaced Matt LaGrassa in the 63rd minute. The 5-foot-10, 23-year-old from Tanzania began training with Nashville in the final week before the season opener, after playing in Virginia’s delayed 2020 season due to COVID-19. He signed his MLS contract April 28.

“Playing with Dax (McCarty) was such an honor,” Donasiyano said of the Nashville midfielder and captain. “He’s a senior player, very smart, very talented. He was guiding me, telling me to do. It was a great opportunity.”

Nashville is scheduled to face Toronto FC on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., MyTV30) to begin a five-match home stint. The Boys in Gold will remain at Nissan Stadium through July 17.

Eastern Conference foes CF Montreal, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United and Chicago Fire will also face Nashville during the homestand.