In Nashville Soccer

NASHVILLE —  Daniel Rios scored his first MLS goal to help Nashville SC overcome D.C. United 1-0 at Nissan Stadium on Wednesday evening, lifting the expansion team above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

The 25-year-old Rios — who was Nashville’s first MLS signing and spent a year with them in the USL Championship — redeemed himself for a glaring first-half miss when, in the 70th minute, he overpowered his marker to bury a header at the far post. The visitors were forced to play the entire second half with 10 men after D.C. midfielder Russell Canouse picked up his second yellow card in the closing seconds of the first half.

The first half was light on early chances, with Nashville’s attacking prospects looking to be further diminished after Dominique Badji pulled up with an injury in the 21st minute, leading to his substitution. The opening period livened up late on, though, with Nashville showing more attacking initiative. They had a great look in the 44th minute as Dax McCarty headed a ball back across goal for an open Rios, but the Mexican striker skewed his chance wide.

Nashville was handed a big advantage in first-half stoppage time after Canouse was shown his second yellow card by referee Tori Penso, 11 minutes after picking up his first caution of the match. Both times the card came for bringing down Derrick Jones to stop a promising attack, first just outside the penalty area and then on the right flank.

Despite being down a man, D.C. looked dangerous to start the second half, and probably should have gone ahead had Ola Kamara not mistimed his close-range header and skied Oniel Fisher‘s inviting cross in the 53rd minute. Nashville started to make their man advantage count as the game wore on, though, and drew two strong saves out of Bill Hamid from Alistair Johnston and Alan Winn after the hour mark. The second led to a corner and the first goal of the game, with Rios making no mistake the second time around after a flick on from Dave Romney.


  • 70′ — NSH — Daniel Rios | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: The upswing continues for Nashville, which now has a record of 3W-1L-2T in its last six games and occupies ninth place in the Eastern Conference, which would be good for the playoffs if the regular season ended today. Gary Smith’s team has figured out what it takes to stay competitive in the MLS. Injury-plagued D.C. United, meanwhile, remains adrift at the bottom of the East. They are only three points out of a playoff spot, but with their injuries and form, it feels like it will take a huge effort to make that four-place jump in the standings.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Rios scored the winner, but the game probably turned on this chance 17 minutes prior that Kamara spurned. D.C. had started the second half on the front foot despite being down a man, and had Kamara converted this chance, they would’ve had a great shot at getting at least a point out of their trip to Tennessee.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Derrick Jones was Nashville’s most influential threat going forward on the night, drawing both yellow cards on Canouse and testing the D.C. United defense on several other occasions. Anibal Godoy also turned in a strong shift in the center of the park.

Next Up

  • Nashville: Saturday, Sept. 26 vs. Houston (3:30 p.m. ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter)
  • D.C. United: Sunday, Sept. 27, vs. New England (7 p.m. ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
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