Nashville SC dominates FC Cincinnati, 3-0, in rematch of 2021 season opener – Tennessean

One way to summarize Nashville SC’s win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday: efficient. Another fitting for the occasion is dominant.

Nashville needed just three shots on goal to notch a 3-0 win over FCC at Nissan Stadium. The Boys in Gold converted its first two shots on goal for an early 2-0 lead in the first 35 minutes, adding a third in the 57th minute, while keeping a clean sheet at Nissan Stadium to move into second in the Eastern Conference and remain unbeaten in its past seven matches.

Center forward CJ Sapong netted his fourth and fifth goals of the season, while winger Randall Leal upped his goal tally to three, assisted by Sapong. Nashville did not concede a shot on goal, despite Cincinnati having five total chances and having 66% of the possession on Saturday.

Here are a few observations from Saturday’s match:

CJ Sapong doubles up with two goals

Nashville attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar was like a gold streak, zooming through a sea of blue on the right side 13 minutes into the match. Nashville had not mustered up the slightest of attacking chances in the opening exchanges. But when the German designated player faked a half turn to his right and kicked the ball past Edgar Castillo for a foot race, the golden streak did all the work for Sapong’s score.

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Mukhtar beamed down the right side, crossed the ball into the center of the 18-yard box, where Sapong made a diving run, sliding to toe-poke the ball past goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.

Sapong’s second goal required a bit more force, but it was Mukhtar again looping the ball into Sapong. Only this time, it was from a indirect free kick in the 57th minute, roughly 30 yards out. Sapong beat Cincinnati center back Nick Hagglung to the spot to head the ball past Vermeer.

Sapong has not scored multiple goals in a match since September 2019, playing for Chicago Fire FC.

Randall Leal back in the goal column

The Costa Rican Natonal Team winger scored his first goal since May 23 – his game-winner against Austin FC.

Sapong had picked up the ball just inside Cincinnati’s half, dashed forward on the right flank and cut inside on his left. With his momentum pointing towards goal, Sapong flicked the ball to his right, where Leal was making an overlapping run. The Costa Rican took a touched and put his laces through the ball for the goal piercing the top left corner of the goal.

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Ake Loba makes home debut

After Ake Loba made his Nashville debut Wednesday as a substitute against the Columbus Crew, Saturday was his first cameo in front of Nashville supporters. The 23-year-old, who signed for a club-record $.6.8 million as Nashville’s third DP, replaced Sapong in the 68th minute.

Limiting Luciano Acosta and company

The Cincinnati captain was held in check on Saturday. The midfield DP made two key passes – those that lead to a legitimate scoring chance – but was often closed down by one, if not two, Nashville defenders. He was fouled four times.

Tough road trip ahead for Nashville

For the first time in MLS, Nashville will travel north to Canada.

The Boys in Gold begin their three-match road trip at Toronto FC on August 1. It is the first of three in a span of eight days. Nashville is scheduled to face the conference-leading New England Revolution on August 4, followed by a trip south to play Inter Miami CF.

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For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer.