Match Preview: Nashville SC at Real Salt Lake

After three consecutive draws, Nashville SC secured their first win of the season as the beat New England Revolution 2-0. Tonight, they are on the road for the first time as they take on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Will Nashville return to a 4-2-3-1? will we continue to see to strikers? What can we expect from this RSL team?

Nashville SC

The past 7 days have seen a lot of firsts for this Nashville team. Their first win of the season, the first time using a 4-4-2 this season and now their first away match of the season.

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When asked how the first road game of the season effect preparation, Coach Smith was quick to say there is not a ton of difference but noted that it will be the longest trip they make. The change in MLS travel protocol this season means that the team actually arrived yesterday and will have time to acclimate to the altitude.

In the pre-match press conference, Coach Smith was asked several times if we could expect to see the two forward set up against Real Salt Lake. He was reluctant to give a definitive answer but did say this, ” I was very happy with what happened at the weekend. I really would love to see Jhonder up there with one of those two guys as well”

Could this be an indication of what to expect tonight?

Nashville SC projected XI

With Hany Mukhtar unavailable against New England, Coach Gary Smith opted to go with a 4-4-2 rather than his usual 4-2-3-1. This change in formation allowed C.J. Sapong to drop a bit deeper at times and link up with the midfield. It’s is unlikely we see Mukhtar rushed back to the starting lineup so expect to see the 4-4-2 with minimal changes.

Dominique Badji was the surprise start against New England and was one of the best players on the pitch. His speed and ability to be in behind opened up space for the rest of the Nashville attack. Tonight, I expect to see Jhonder Cádiz to come in and pair with C.J. Sapong up top. RSL will be a bit more compact than New England and Cadiz is a bit better in tight spaces.

Real Salt Lake

Last season was one of turmoil for Real Salt Lake and going in to this season, expectations were quite low. However, they find themselves with 2 wins in their first three matches over the likes of Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United.

Real Salt Lake projected XI

Coach Freddy Juarez primarily utilizes a compact 4-2-3-1 formation that will be led up top by Rubio Rubin. Rubin came in from USL’s San Diego Loyal and has made an instant impact with 3 goals and 2 assists. Nashville will need to cut off the passing lanes into Rubin and try to isolate him as but as possible.

Behind Rubin, long time veteran Justin Meram will lineup out on the right with Albert Rusnák on the left. Both wingers will look to cut inside at times and play off of Damir Kreilach.

At the back, USMNT fans will recognize the likes of Justen Glad and David Ochoa from the failed Olympic Qualifying campaign. Glad will lineup up along side academy product Erik Holt as his centerback partner if Marcelo Silva is still out through injury. Nashville will look to exploit this partnership through the likes of Sapong and Cádiz.

Injury report

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: Salt Lake 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar comes off the bench and gets a goal and assist for a comeback win

Andy Simmons

Score: Salt Lake 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Godoy’s goal is a screamer from outside the box.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Salt Lake 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Leal picks up a goal and an assist.

Davey Shepherd

Score: Salt Lake 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Jhonder Cádiz
Bold Prediction: Both Sapong and Cádiz start up top

John Sloop

Score: Salt Lake 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores early then gives up 2 goals in the second half

Have a prediction for this week’s match? Vote in our Fan Forecast.

Kit Matchup

Match Info

Teams: Real Salt Lake vs Nashville SC
Odds: NSH (+175), RSL(+140), Draw (+230) via MGM
Date: Saturday, 05/15/21
Time: 8:30PM Central, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
TV: MyTV30, (in market) , ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 81°/55°. Sunny. 15% chance of rain. 54% 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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