Nashville SC hold "no fear" after vanquishing Liga MX power Monterrey


Nashville SC have accomplished quite a lot in their short MLS history. But with Tuesday night's massive 2-0 Leagues Cup semifinal triumph over Liga MX's CF Monterrey at GEODIS Park, they're now in uncharted territory.

The result, delivered by goals from Sam Surridge and Fafa Picault, means the Boys in Gold will soon play for their first-ever trophy when they host Inter Miami CF on Saturday in the tournament final (9 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

To procure that silverware, they'll have to do what no other team in Leagues Cup play has accomplished: Take down a transformed Inter Miami side that has run rampant through the tournament thus far, racking up an astounding 21 goals behind the electric form of superstar Lionel Messi.

"It's a big moment for our club," captain Dax McCarty told reporters after the match. "We've made the playoffs every year in our existence. ...We've been close and we haven't quite been able to get over that hurdle for one reason or another. I think part of the reason why you put together such an experienced team is to be competitive right away. And we've been competitive right away, but we haven't quite been able to get over that final hurdle.

"So now tonight is a night where we take all those experiences that we've had the last four years and we put it to the test against, again, one of the best that we've played since I've been here. So, to be able to come through this tournament beating Cincinnati, beating Club América, beating a good Minnesota team handily and then obviously beating Monterrey, we should be full of confidence. I can tell you right now, there's no one in that locker room right now that's afraid or scared of the moment and scared to play this Miami team."

That said, McCarty and Nashville head coach Gary Smith were both quick to acknowledge the enormity of the challenge that lies in front of them.

"About five minutes," Smith joked when asked about how long it will take for his focus to shift to the South Florida side. "There's just not a lot of time. We were lucky enough to watch a good portion of the [Miami] game before ours really got underway in the pregame. It's absolutely astounding, amazing, I think we've run out of adjectives to describe what's gone on in Miami. They're playing such good football, they're scoring goals, they look a side that's unrecognizable from a month ago. I've never in all my time in football seen a transformation of a team that we're currently seeing.

"I do believe that in a Cup final, and at home, we'll be prepared," Smith added. "They'll certainly be no fear in the way that we play. And we'll try and give ourselves the very best opportunity to do what nobody else has done at the moment, which is beat Miami."

Inter Miami's dominant form and loaded roster leave Nashville in the usual scenario of being the underdog in a Cup final on their home field. It's not necessarily a role they're unfamiliar with, however. They've already defied the odds multiple times in the tournament, emerging victorious from a gauntlet of a Leagues Cup schedule that saw them top arguably favored opponents in MLS Supporters' Shield frontrunners FC Cincinnati, as well as a pair of quality Liga MX foes in Club América and CF Monterrey.

"Nobody ever gives us a chance," Smith said. "And I think that's part of maybe the internal drive of the group."

The theme of respect, but not fear, was consistent from both the player and coach throughout the press conference. All told, McCarty said the matchup presents an opportunity of a lifetime, knowing a victory over Messi and Co. would put the club in an unprecedented spotlight.

"The respect level for what they have been able to accomplish in this tournament with the players that they've brought in, namely Messi, we have to respect that," McCarty said. "They've been absolutely on fire, and for good reason. I think it's a great challenge, man. I think it's a wonderful challenge.

"This is the reason why you play the game. You go through the hard preseasons and you go through the tough losses to build up some character to get you to a moment like this. So, we'll be ready. We'll attack it with no fear and we'll see where the chips fall when the final whistle blows."