Geodis Park took center stage on Sunday afternoon, as Nashville SC held its 2022 home opener in its sparkling new 30,000 seater, getting a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union. Mikael Uhre scored the first goal in the new stadium to put a damper on the party, but Randall Leal salvaged the draw with a late PK goal.
Nashville had the opportunity to get its first-ever goal in the new stadium during the opening half, but the match quickly became the Andre Blake show. The Union goalkeeper made four saves during an eventful first half that saw Dax McCarty, Alex Muyl, Hany Mukhtar and Daniel Lovitz all denied, with McCarty and Muyl striking woodwork in their quest to make history. Muyl also gave the referee a red or yellow card decision with a minute 37 studs-on-thigh foul on Jose Martinez, but he was allowed to remain in the match on a caution.
The opening goal did come midway through a chippy second half, but to the dismay of the home fans. The Union's Uhre did great solo work on a counter to open his MLS account. But in the 83rd minute, Martinez committed a handball foul in the box on Nashville's 12th corner of the match, allowing Leal to step up to the spot. Blake guessed the right way, but Leal put enough pace and distance on the PK to write his name into history. A similar-looking corner kick went to Video Review in stoppage time, but despite it appearing that Cory Burke made ball-to-arm contact, Nashville didn't get a second opportunity for a PK.
- THE BIG PICTURE: For Nashville, there might have been might have many more goals and much more celebration, especially in a first-half where they were more exciting and threatening from open play. But a cagey draw from a PK works too, especially for a team that got to the playoffs last year with 18 of their 34 matches finishing in draws. They’ll now have 16 remaining home matches, contrasted with nine away, to pile up points in the West. The Union, meanwhile, will be understandably disappointed not being able to wrest away three points, but what they did get in the result lifted them back to the top of the East.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It wasn’t quite how they perhaps pictured it would look, but the home throngs wanted a goal to cheer and a result to savor, and Leal brought them to the Promised Land (as Soccer Moses’ banner declared).
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Despite the firsts that Leal and Uhre managed to carve out on offense, Blake was spectacular, finishing with five saves and just fingertips away from denying Leal and 30,000 fans of a special moment.