New York City FC and Nashville SC settled for a 0-0 draw Sunday afternoon, with neither side able to find the back of the net at Red Bull Arena.
The point brings New York City just below D.C. United in fifth place, while Nashville increase their grip on second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
NYCFC came out of the gates quickly. The home side controlled possession, keeping the ball in Nashville’s half for much of the opening exchanges. Nashville’s set-piece struggles continued, nearly costing them goals on two separate occasions; a Valentín Castellanos header glanced off the post from a corner kick, and Alexander Callens headed a free kick into the net before the assistant referee flagged him offside.
It wasn’t all positive for Ronny Deila's team in the first half, though. Anton Tinnerholm went down under no contact with a nasty-looking injury, forcing the Swedish right back into an early exit.
Nashville grew into the match as it went on. Dan Lovitz flashed a volley inches wide just before the break, and a pair of halftime changes from Gary Smith led to a much-improved second half, although Joe Willis was called into action on multiple occasions to deny NYCFC from close range, including a late stop of Jesús Medina.
Despite an end-to-end finish, neither side could manufacture a breakthrough, and the two sides shared a point and a clean sheet. The result clinches a first-place finish for New England, who sit atop the Eastern Conference with a staggering 18-point lead.
- THE BIG PICTURE: While both sides could have used three points, a draw doesn't hurt either in the playoff race. Nashville earned their second consecutive road shutout to increase their hold on second place to five points, and NYCFC gained ground on D.C. United and Orlando City with the result.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: New York City nearly broke the stalemate in the 77th minute, opening Nashville's defense with a line-breaking through ball. Willis was up to the task, though, denying Medina with a quick reaction.
SAVE: Joe Willis, Nashville SC - 77th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Willis was the difference for Nashville, stepping up on multiple occasions to preserve the clean sheet. The shutout was his 12th of the season, the best record in the league.
- NYC: Sunday, October 17 at New York Red Bulls | 1 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS regular season
- NSH: Saturday, October 16 at DC United | 6:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS regular season