Fresh off a 1-0 win over Inter Miami, Nashville SC are back at Nissan Stadium to take on Orlando City. They lost 3-1 last time out against the Lions. Will the Boys in Gold be up for it tonight? Here are the players to watch.
The winger got his first start in gold since joining the team from New York Red Bulls. He had a strong showing against Miami, combining well in the final third and having a goal disallowed by VAR. It was an encouraging debut for a player who’s been hailed as a “defensive winger”, and could bode well for an attacking group that has looked starved for creativity in the final third. The early signs are encouraging – can he keep it up?
The rookie keeps impressing. After strong showings in midfield, he got his first start at right back, and fit in well, buzzing up and down the flank to put out fires and provide an outlet in possession. It’s fair to say he’s exceeded expectations already, and with right back an issue for the club early in the season, Johnston really seems like he could be the solution. If he can help shut down an Orlando side that scored three goals against Nashville last time, it will go a long way towards solidifying his place in the starting XI.
The young midfielder got his first taste of MLS action over the weekend, filling in for the rested Dax McCarty and fitting in well in a midfield that has been a real strength for Nashville this season. Anunga is young and inexperienced. But he showed the positional and tactical intelligence, as well as the passing range, to be a more consistent option in midfield. If Gary Smith decides to rest Aníbal Godoy, Anunga seems a likely option to replace him.
The left back has played every minute for Nashville so far, and has been one of the better performers on the team. His overlapping runs and set piece delivery have been a big part of Nashville’s attacking production. However, Lovitz is on four yellow cards for the season. One more would mean a single match suspension. Does Smith risk losing him against Miami? Does he give him the start anyway? It’s an interesting question for Nashville. With Taylor Washington the likely replacement, it will be interesting to see if Lovitz gets the start.
Ríos got his second MLS start last time out against Orlando, drawing praise from Gary Smith for his link-up play. It’s evident thus far that Ríos is Nashville’s best passer at the position, and although he hasn’t found the net yet, he has come close a couple times. In recent matches, Smith has rotated between Badji and Ríos, and after a strong showing against Orlando, Ríos could be up for another shot.
Who are you excited to watch? Let us know in the comments.