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Mar 29, 2024 11:22 pm

Columbus, Nashville face off after humbling losses

Cucho Hernandez

Defending MLS Cup champion Columbus suffered its first loss of the season last weekend.

But it came with an asterisk.

The Crew (3-1-1, 10 points), who will return to action Saturday night at Nashville SC (1-1-3, 6 points), were without head coach Wilfried Nancy because of illness in the loss to Charlotte FC. By the 23rd minute, Columbus had to make two substitutions because of injuries and one of those players coming off the bench, Derrick Jones, received a red card in the 26th minute, leaving the Crew short-handed the rest of the way.

So maybe a 2-0 loss shouldn’t have been unexpected.

“Disappointed obviously with the result, but what the team showed was a real togetherness,” Crew assistant coach Kwame Ampadu said. “Down to 10 men, they showed real bravery with the ball to continue to try to play our game. … We really tried to play.”

Columbus’ Cucho Hernandez, who has a team-leading three goals this season, put the ball in the back of the net in first-half stoppage time, but it was disallowed after a video review.

Charlotte scored twice after the 82nd minute for the victory.

“Everyone knows us for how well we play and possess the ball, how pretty we play,” Crew captain Darlington Nagbe said. “For a good amount of the game, we showed a different side to us, buckle down, defend and play a different type of way. We tried to get a result but almost there, not a complete game but some good things to take away from it.”

Nashville is coming off the worst loss in franchise history, 5-0 last weekend at LAFC.

Defender Walker Zimmerman, a U.S. international, missed that match with a knee injury and is expected to be sidelined Saturday. Lukas MacNaughton might also sit out after suffering a hip injury in training.

“We’ve been unable, on many occasions, to field what I would class as a fluid back line,” Nashville coach Gary Smith said. “… I’m not making that as an excuse as to what happened (against LAFC), but it certainly plays into the fact that there were some breakdowns.”

In addition, Nashville is still waiting for perennial MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar to record his first goal or assist this season.

–Field Level Media

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