HIGHLIGHTS: Nashville SC vs. Orlando City SC | August 18, 2021
On a rainy night in Nashville, the home side took a deserved lead in the 23rd minute through a ninth goal of an increasingly impressive season from Sapong. But Orlando fought back and secured a point thanks to a thumping 58th-minute header from Antonio Carlos.
The two sides traded chances and spells of dominance right from the jump. After both goalkeepers were called into action early, there was nothing that could be done to stop Sapong continuing his scoring streak. The veteran striker both started the move and finished it, winning the ball on halfway and driving forward before exchanging passes with Hany Mukhtar and supplying the finish of a man brimming with confidence.
Nashville could have extended their lead before the break, but Randall Leal chose to shoot rather than pass when free down the right of the box and could only find the outside of the side netting.
Orlando had chances of their own, though. And they surely thought they had pulled level when Tesho Akindele headed powerfully into the ground and looked to have sent the ball looping over Joe Willis, only for the Nashville goalkeeper to make a spectacular one-handed recovery to keep the ball at bay.
However, Willis could do nothing about another Orlando header just before the hour mark. Mauricio Pereyra's free kick to the back post was perfectly placed and Carlos' leap and header were equally impressive to level the score.
The only surprise for the remaining 30-plus minutes was that there weren't further goals. Both sides shook the woodwork, first when Akindele flashed a header from a superb Joao Moutinho cross flush off the crossbar and then when Nashville center back Dave Romney saw a header of his own come back off the post.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Though the result moves Nashville up to second place in the East and Orlando down to fifth, neither side can be too disappointed with a point in a game that could have gone either way. If there's frustration to be had, it will likely be on Nashville's side. While they remain unbeaten at home this season, this was their sixth draw in 13 games. Those dropped points in front of their home fans could be crucial with just a single point separating second from fifth in the East and only the top four getting home-field advantage to start the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: There were plenty to choose from, but we'll go for the opening goal, started and finished in style by Sapong.
GOAL: C.J. Sapong, Nashville SC - 23rd minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Sapong gets the plaudits again. Since increased competition arrived in the form of DP forward Ake Loba, the 32-year-old has made himself impossible to leave out.