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D.C. United can’t break down Nashville SC in 0-0 draw

Almost, but not quite, for the Black-and-Red at Audi Field tonight

MLS: Nashville SC at D.C. United Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Despite long spells on the front foot, D.C. United couldn’t solve Nashville SC in a 0-0 draw on Buzzard Point tonight. A short-handed United attack came close, and Bill Hamid only had to make two saves to post a shutout, but ultimately the visitors walked off the happier side.

With key attackers Paul Arriola, Edison Flores, and Yordy Reyna all out with injuries — the former duo both picked up knocks in the last week while on international duty — Hernán Losada made three changes to the side that lost two weeks ago in Orlando. Adrien Perez made his return from injury after missing 15 games, while Nigel Robertha and Kevin Paredes were in from the start as well.

United were inches from a 3rd minute opener, with Perez showing some skill to lay the ball off to Ola Kamara. The MLS Golden Boot leader moved the ball to his right before bending a shot past Joe Willis, only for it to smack off the post and rebound away from danger.

The Black-and-Red had another early look as Donovan Pines headed a Julian Gressel free kick right at Willis as both teams were willing to open up to start. United thought they had a penalty kick when Dax McCarty grabbed Robertha on the edge of the box, but referee Ismail Elfath gave the free kick just outside the area, with Gressel’s effort tipped over the bar in the end.

United, who were more and more taking control of proceedings, had another protest in the 25th minute, as Eric Miller brought Steven Birnbaum down as both challenged for another Gressel set piece delivery, but again Elfath wasn’t interested.

Nashville set up more conservatively to start the second half, while United — perhaps with an eye on the busy schedule to come — removed Perez and Andy Najar in favor of Joseph Mora and Chris Odoi-Atsem.

It took a while to create the game’s next serious opening, but what came was United’s best look up to that point. Paredes and Mora did well to carve Nashville open in the aftermath of a 62nd minute free kick, and Mora’s cross to the back post found Russell Canouse, whose powerful header was blocked by Willis. Both teams scrambled for the loose ball on the doorstep, but no one in black could force it over the line.

Bill Hamid was having a quiet night, but had to be very sharp in the 82nd minute as Nashville made their first serious attacking move of the entire second half. Hany Mukhtar burst forward along the right, but from a narrow angle, his near-post blast was pushed away by Hamid, and the Black-and-Red eventually shut down the danger after a series of NSC corners.

United made a push to notch a late winner, but several free kicks and corners didn’t pan out, with Nashville hanging on for the full time whistle. With their first home draw of the year, United (12W-5D-12L, 41 points) climbs back above CF Montréal, but depending on results elsewhere in the East, the single point could see them land anywhere between 5th and 7th place.

They’ll remain at home as the crowded MLS schedule picks back up, with their next match coming this Wednesday, October 20, when they host the New England Revolution.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 29
D.C. United 0
Nashville SC 0

DCU (343): Bill Hamid; Andy Najar (Chris Odoi-Atsem 46), Steven Birnbaum (C), Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno (Ramón Ábila 87), Kevin Paredes; Adrien Perez (Joseph Mora 46), Ola Kamara, Nigel Robertha (Drew Skundrich 69)

Nashville (532): Joe Willis; Eric Miller, Jack Maher, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Taylor Washington; Luke Haakenson (Alex Muyl 67), Dax McCarty (C), Tah Brian Anunga; CJ Sapong (Daniel Ríos 73), Hany Mukhtar (Jhonder Cádiz 93+)

DCU - Canouse 33, Mora 46
Nashville - Mukhtar 62, McCarty 94+