MATCH PREVIEW: FC Dallas vs Nashville FC Part 2

Wednesday night saw Nashville SC get their first win in club history as David Accam came off the bench and provided a late spark in a 1-0 win over FC Dallas. On Sunday, the Boys in Gold travel back to Texas to face FC Dallas once again. Let’s take a look at how the match could play out.

Wednesday night was a historic night not just for the club as they secured their first MLS win, but also several players. Brayan Beckeles, Matt LaGrassa and Allistair Johnson all made their MLS debuts while Daniel Ríos and Derrick Jones also earned their first starts. On the touchline, assistant coach Steve Guppy stepped in to fill in for head coach Gary Smith, who was forced to miss out due to delays in his COVID tests. Smith is expected to be back on the touch line though this Sunday.

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Sunday represents a unique opportunity for NSC as they face off against the same opponent just days later. This will allow Smith to look at what did and did not work, and adjust with a specific game plan for the team he just played.

The first half of the match looked very similar to the early MSL Is Back games, as each team struggled to get in to a rhythm. Nashville was able to get in to their stride a bit more following the first half water break, and were really able to exploit the Dallas backline through speed. Dominique Badji and Abu Danladi provided that spark of acceleration off the bench and created a bit of space that David Accam was able to exploit. Expect to see NSC utilize a similar strategy, potentially from the outset as well as off the bench.

The biggest area of improvement for Sunday will come in the attack. The addition of Derrick Jones pushed Muhktar out wide and to the opposite side of the pitch from Randall Leal. Too many of Muhktar’s best qualities are sacrificed on the wing and his best passages of play came from when he was able to drift inside. His ability to pick a pass in tight spaces along with combining with Leal and Ríos should see him start back in the middle.

On Wednesday, Nashville lineup up in their typical 4-2-3-1 formation and expect to see them do the same on Sunday. Just like on Wednesday, the #10 will push up and create a two man front in defense in order to press and prepare for the counter.

Up top, Daniel Ríos should get another chance to lead the time especially with Dominique Badji coming off an injury. Ríos was left a bit too isolated at times, but Hany Muhktar should return to playing as the #10 and will provide a bit more link up play than Derrick Jones did. The movement of Muhktar back to the middle should also benefit Randall Leal out on the left. Having your best attackers closer together will only benefit the team. On Wednesday, we saw the effect that pace has on FC Dallas and David Accam will be able to use his speed to counter quickly and open up spaces on the right. If Smith decides to utilize Accam off the bench, Abu Danladi could easily slot as well.

Dax McCarty and Aníbal Godoy were excellent on Wedneday night and barring unforeseen circumstances, will be back in the midfield. McCarty’s vision and ability to cover a lot ground will be useful against this FC Dallas midfield, especially if Paxtonn Pomykal returns to the starting lineup. Godoy will be able to use his range of passing to quickly start counters and will occasionally drift up the field further in to the attack.

At the back, Joe Willis will start in goal. He had a fantastic game on Wednesday registing 5 saves including a really crucial one lat on. In front of him, Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney will continue you there successful partnership. Hopefully Zimmerman won’t be called in in for some late game heroics. At fullback, Daniel Lovitz will start at left back with the right back being a bit of a toss up. Eric Miller and Brayan Beckeles have both started for this team but haven’t convinced. Allistair Johnson earned his first appearance on Wednesday and could be given the chance to start. Jalil Anibaba could also be moved out wide if Smith is looking for a more veteran presence, or the flexibility to move to a back three in-game.


  1. Rotation. We saw a fairly predictable starting lineup last time out, but these guys haven’t played in literally forever. Some of the substitutions seemed to be designed to keep players fresh (Ríos, for instance, played 68 minutes, likely with an eye on Sunday). However, it’s a big ask to have everyone play just four days later, especially with the added travel. I wouldn’t be at all shocked if we see four or five changes to the starting lineup for this second leg.
  2. Build sustained momentum earlier. Nashville took a while to really get going, but after the waterbreak and into the second half, they really took the game to Dallas. It didn’t always end up on the stat sheet, but they got the ball into really good areas and seemed more cohesive in attack. That needs to happen from the outset.
  3. Get Ríos involved. I think it’s unquestionable that Ríos is the best link-up forward on the roster. When he, Leal and Mukhtar were able to combine in the final third, the end result was really good. However, he was isolated for much of the match, and he doesn’t have the breakaway speed to play the back shoulder and try to counter with no support. Nashville will need to involve him more in the buildup, and that will mean a) pushing their lines higher and b) having vertical threats wide to create space for him. Leal and Mukhtar are both great playmakers, but neither will stretch the field like Accam. I’m not sure Ríos works with Jones, Leal and Mukhtar in the “three line”.



OUT: Brandon Servania (adductor strain)


OUT: n/a
QUESTIONABLE: Eric Miller (adductor), Jimmy Medranda (hip)


Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 FC Dallas
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Leal takes at least 5 shots.

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 1 – 2 FC Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Dax McCarty
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores a goal in the first 10 minutes, but fails to hang on down the stretch.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 FC Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Leal scores Nashville’s lone goal but dominates the game from right wing

Davey Shepherd

Score: Nashville 2 – 0 FC Dallas
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Randal Leal
MOTM: Hany Muhktar
Bold Prediction: Muhktar registers two assists

John Sloop

Score: Nashville 2 – 2 FC Dallas
Scorers: Randal Leal, Hany Muhktar
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: The Dallas “crowd” boos again

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Date: Sunday, 08/16/20
Time: 7:00 PM, Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV: MyTV30
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 97°/74°. Sunny. 10% chance of rain. 46% humidity.

Author: Jonathan Slapeoriginated from outside of Atlanta but has lived in Nashville since 2005. Original member of Speedway Soccer and has been talking and occasionally writing about Nashville SC since the USL days. Self proclaimed official fashion correspondent. Outside of Nashville SC you can find him singing the praises of Jurgen Klopp, discussing the latest in sneakers and soccer fashion with a good stiff drink.

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