Match Preview: Nashville SC v Inter Miami CF

In what felt like deja vu, Nashville SC went down early against CF Montréal but was able to fight back to a  2-2 draw. On Sunday, Inter Miami CF travels to Nashville in a rematch of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. Can the Boys In Gold avoid giving up the first goal? Will they secure their first win of the season?

Nashville SC

Two straight home games for Nashville SC and two straight 2-2 draws. The match against CF Montréal felt very similar to the match against FC Cincinnati, with Nashville giving up two early goals before fighting back to earn a point. Nashville will need to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes and get back some of their defensive solidity. If Nashville fails to secure a win on Sunday will it be time to panic? Is Sunday a must win game?

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Nashville SC projected XI

Head Coach Gary Smith does’t think so, but does recognize the pressure to perform at home. In his press conference yesterday he said, “As far as must win game and pressure, I honestly think when you’re at home, there’s always a pressure to win game in MLS. Each and every team team will look at their home ground and their home fixtures as really being the main focal point of their league performances and points on the board.”

In both games Nashville has been able to generate high chance numbers and leads the league in expected goals, but has struggle to convert those chances with both Jhonder Cádiz and Hany Mukhtar missing chances against Montréal but do not expect to see that trend to continue especially if Nashville continues to attack well and create opportunity.

Two games into the season maybe too early to claim that there is a pattern, but I don’t expect to see Nashville deviate from Smith’s preferred 4-2-3-1 yet. In fact, I expect to see only one change from the starting XI against Montréal with Alex Muyl coming in for Handwalla Bwana.

Midfielder Brian Anunga is out of the match with issues in his left leg. Midfield depth has been a concern for Nashville, and Anunga is the primary backup in both midfield spots. Matt LaGrassa has been an alternate for both matches so far, and seems the likeliest option to take Anunga’s spot on the bench.

However, Nashville just announced the signing of first round SuperDraft selection Irakoze Donasiyano, who is another midfield option.

Inter Miami CF

When Inter Miami CF take the field on Sunday, they will look much different from the team that Nashville beat 3-0 in the playoffs. Not only has manager Diego Alonso been replaced by Phil Neville, but 11 players from their inaugural roster are no longer with the club. These moves were a clear indication that 2020 did not live up to their standards.

So far this season, the changes seem to be working. To take a deeper dive in what Phill Neville has brought to the team, Ben Wright, got a chance to talk with SBISoccer’s Franco Panizo in this week’s Zoomed N.

Inter Miami projected XI

As good as Miami have looked in their 3-2 loss to the LA Galaxy and their most recent 2-1 win away to the Philadelphia Union, this week presents a very unique challenge. Gonzalo and Federico Higuaín lost their mother this week to cancer and will be unavailable due to the funeral along with Rodolfo Pizarro, who is in Mexico securing his green card.

On top of that, Robbie Robinson is dealing with a hamstring injury and Julian Carranza has been help out of training due to a non-Covid sickness. Neville will have his hands full piecing together a line up from this one.

Neville has said that he expects to lineup and play the exact same way he has the past two games; a well organized 4-2-3-1 that will look to play in transition. I expect to see them sit back a little bit deeper than they would maybe prefer and try to force Nashville into the middle, where Blaise Matuidi and Gregore excel at breaking up play and winning the ball back.

The biggest question is up top.

In all their meetings last season, Miami didn’t score a goal on Nashville. It won’t be any easier on Sunday, with so many key attackers out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carranza make his way back to fitness in time for Sunday’s match, with Jay Chapman slotting in on the left for Robinson. I still don’t necessarily know who starts as the central attacking midfielder. Neville’ mentioned Victor Ulloa impressing in training, but he’s by no means a 10. Miami’s lineup will be interesting.

Injury report

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 3 – 1 Miami
Scorers: Randall Leal, Jhonder Cádiz, C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville takes 20+ shots and allows less than 10.

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Miami
Scorers: Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville concedes first for the third match in a row.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 3 – 0 Miami
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Cádiz continues his goal scoring streak, as he bags in his third straight game.

Lucas Panzica

Score: Nashville 3 – 1 Miami
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Randall Leal, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Rodrigo Piñeiro makes his debut.

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

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC vs Inter Miami CF
Odds: NSH (-110), MIA (+290), Draw (+230) via MGM
Date: Sunday, 05/02/21
Time: 12:00PM Central, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 75°/64°. Rain. 20% chance of rain. 50% 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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