Playing in the Music City for the first time ever, Philly found themselves behind early for the second-straight match as former Union forward CJ Sapong opened the scoring in the second minute. The defensive-minded Nashville side pounced on a counter attack as Sapong connected with Randall Leal on a give and go for the 1-0 lead.
The hosts nearly doubled the margin moments later but a key tackle from Jack Elliott kept Nashville at bay.
The stop got the Boys in Blue energized as a strong build up that saw possible scoring chances from Cory Burke and Jamiro Monteiro smothered by a stingy Nashville defense.
As the first half wore down chances to notch the game’s second goal increased with the Union generate plenty of good moments but few clear looks at goal.
Making his first start for the Union, Daniel Gazdag nearly bagged a debut goal but sent his right-footed shot wide. Kacper Przybylko created a pair of scoring chances when he drilled a set piece header wide before Joe Willis covered an audacious right-footed blast.
The Union’s counter attacking gameplan was on display in the 43rd minute as Kai Wagner forced a turnover inside the Union’s defensive box and was off to the races. As the Union raced into the attack, he drifted a pass to Gazdag at the midfield line and the Hungarian pushed the tempo. With Nashville trying to get back, he threaded a pass through the defense to Burke but Reggae Boyz forward’s shot was stopped by Willis.
Nashville’s organized defense caused problems for Philly as they sought to even the scoreline. Although the Union controlled the match, their intricate wide combinations were largely ignored by the home side, which sat in the center and dared their opponents to find a way through.
Just over ten minutes into the half, Jim Curtin pulled Gazdag and Burke in favor of Sergio Santos and Jose Martinez. The latter allowed Philly’s midfield to release upfield while the former looked for pockets of space in front of the defense to collect the ball and create individual battles with defenders.
Santos, however, sent his first chance into the cheap seats when a cross from the left came through the box and met his right foot.
Randal Leal countered in the 75th minute but Andre Blake proved far too good at that distance.
Quinn Sullivan, the club’s youngest goalscorer, entered for Flach as Nashville packed their box and tried to kill the game.
Kai Wagner laced a first-time shot from deep into the box in the 88th minute and the resulting corner turned into a counter attack for the home side. Philly cleared play and raced the other way but Santos and Przybylko couldn’t connect.
Philly returns to action with the finale of their three-game road trip next Thursday night, July 8, against the rival New York Red Bulls. Kick off from New Jersey is set for 8 p.m. ET and will be available for fans to watch on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.