NYCFC suffered defeat on the opening day of the 2023 MLS season, falling to a 2-0 reverse at Nashville SC. Goals in either half for Walker Zimmerman and Jacob Shaffelburg handed the home side victory in City’s first visit to GEODIS Park.
NYCFC Fall 2-0 To Nashville On Opening Day Of MLS Season
Match Recap from NYCFC.com
All nine of NYCFC’s MLS campaigns have begun on the road, with City unbeaten in four but winless since the 2018 opener. This encounter marked only third meeting between the two sides in competitive action.
Head Coach Nick Cushing employed a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Luis Barraza taking his place between the sticks. New recruit Braian Cufré was thrust straight into the starting XI for his first appearance, while Keaton Parks occupied the heart of midfield for his 100th league game for the Club.
The opening day drew a vocal and energetic crowd in Music City, and the home side responded, carving the game’s first chance on six minutes when Randall Leal played Shaffelburg through, only for Barraza to produce an excellent stop.
Sean Davies then volleyed over the bar, with the hosts riding the early momentum and City looking to threaten on the counter.
The visitors’ first purposeful venture almost broke the deadlock, as Talles Magno cut inside and curled a powerful effort goalward, which landed on the roof of the net.
Cufré then went in search of a debut goal, calling Joe Willis into action at his near post.
Nashville rallied on the half hour, drawing another smart save from Barraza, who pushed Teal Bunbury’s deflected strike over the crossbar. The hosts would make their pressure count three minutes later though, when Fafa Picault kept Leal’s free-kick alive. Though Zimmerman’s initial shot was blocked by Barraza, the ball bounced back over the line with Anibal Godoy lurking to make sure.
In response, City pressed for a leveler before the break. Matías Pellegrini went closest, driving forward and firing over the bar, while Magno also skewed wide.
Cushing opted for a tactical switch at the break, shifting Thiago Andrade into the central attacking role, and the change almost bore fruit within minutes.
Adopting a more offensive approach, a free-flowing move from right to left saw Cufré release Andrade. The Brazilian nipped in before Willis and squared for Pellegrini, but the Argentine could not keep his effort down.
The forward went close again just after the hour mark, catching a snapshot well but drilling narrowly wide of the bottom corner, while Maxime Chanot tried his luck from range but smashed off-target.
Fresh legs were introduced in the second period with Mtija Ilenič earning his first minutes for the Club. Kevin O’Toole looked to make an impact from the bench with an arrowing effort from distance, claimed by Willis at the second attempt, but it was a Nashville substitute that would mark a crucial contribution in the form of 2022 Golden Boot winner Hany Mukhtar.
Within minutes of coming on, last season’s MVP drove at the City defense before playing into the path of Shaffelburg, who slotted in his side’s second to effectively kill the contest with ten minutes left to play.
NYCFC are on the road again for Matchday Two of 2023, traveling to Chicago Fire on March, 4th in an 8:30pm ET kick-off at Soldier Field.The Boys in Blue then return to home soil, welcoming Inter Miami CF to Yankee Stadium on March, 11th at 7:30pm.