Nashville's stunning upset of FC Cincinnati a "great step in the right direction"


On Wednesday night, Rumba Munthali became the second head coach in Nashville SC history to earn a victory.

Manning the touchline for his third match after Nashville parted ways with Gary Smith earlier this month, the interim manager oversaw a shock 2-0 win at Supporters' Shield contenders FC Cincinnati. It was arguably the club's most comprehensive display since their run to the Leagues Cup final last summer, while securing their third shutout in four games and snapping the Orange & Blue's seven-game winning streak.

"I mean, it's wonderful to get the first win," Munthali said with a smile after the match. "I think it's awesome for all the guys who've worked really hard and had a lot of games in a short span. And I think it's a testament to them and the work that they've put forth, and also their ability to be open to ideas and new different things."

Turnaround coming?

In three matches under Munthali, Nashville have earned results – a pair of draws before finally getting three points in Cincinnati. And while he hasn't reinvented the wheel, the tweaks he's made have been consequential: a return to a back four, getting Hany Mukhtar more involved and instilling a more front-foot approach.

Mukhtar was particularly involved at TQL Stadium, sending the corner kick for Jack Maher's 25th-minute opener and making a brilliant individual run and service for Jacob Shaffelburg's decisive goal just four minutes later to seal the win.

"One of the things for us that we focused on going into this game was being confident on the ball and looking to play forward when we win the ball and transition, looking forward first, breaking lines when we can with passes, having support off of our bodies in the front so that when we do have to go a little bit longer, we have help there," said goalkeeper Joe Willis, who earned his fourth clean sheet of the season.

"Ultimately, I think just playing with confidence and understanding that we're good players and we can find space against this team and to be calm and composed on the ball and to look forward."

Munthali agreed.

"I think every game we show the bravery to play and play in tight spaces and to go forward and be positive and on the front foot at the times we can," he said. "I think if that keeps continuing, the confidence will grow and I hope to have more games like we've had and keep getting better each game."

Back in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs position for the first time since March 16, Nashville feel like their Matchday 17 upset is proof of the momentum they're building.

"It was a great step in the right direction for our team and our club," Munthali affirmed. "... I think it's awesome! It's great! And I hope that we continue to build. I think everybody that's around the team, around the club, is really excited to keep pushing forward and keep being positive."