Preview: Nashville SC at Columbus Crew SC

The 10-match unbeaten run has come to an end as Nashville fell 1-0 to CF Montreal. Tonight, the ‘Yotes continue their road trip as they travel to Ohio to face Columbus Crew.

Can Nashville get a result on the road with a depleted squad? Will Columbus get revenge for the game at GEODIS Park?

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Columbus Crew SC

This Season: 6th (West) | 28 points | 8W-4D-6L | +10 GD

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Will Sands, Kevin Molino 🇹🇹, Aidan Morris 🇺🇸, Jacen Russell-Rowe 🇨🇦
Questionable: Miloš Degenek

When these two teams last met on Memorial Day weekend, the Crew was fresh off of two losses. They had dropped a 3-2 loss on the road to in-state rivals, FC Cincinnati and followed it up with a 1-0 loss away to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the US Open Cup.

The picture for Columbus looks much better heading into tonight’s games. They are unbeaten in four and only dropped points to New York City SC in a 1-1 draw on the road.

The beginning of the season was always going to begin with transition as they learned a new system under Wilfred Nancy and it seems like the team is starting to feel comfortable.

Unlike Nashville, the Crew comes into tonight’s match having a full week of rest as they were off in the midweek. Nancy will not have to factor in rotation to the extent that Gary Smith will when selecting his squad.

Like so many of the teams in the league, Columbus has several key players away on international duty including Aiden Morris who has been at the heart of everything Columbus does in the center of the pitch. Isaiah Parente should slot in alongside Darlington Nagbe but will have a lot of work to do tracking Hany Mukhtar.

Columbus will look to play on the counter and allow Nashville to have the ball. When they regain possession, they will look to transition quickly upfield and get the ball to Cucho Hernadez up top. From there, Cucho will look to create his own opportunity or play the ball to the two attacking midfielders/inside forwards making runs around him.

The two attackers behind Cucho will play a crucial role in the match tonight, especially if Lucas Zelaryan is available from the start. Zelerayan just returned from International duty with Armenia and could prove to be the difference-maker tonight.

Nashville SC

2nd (East) | 35 points | 10W-5D-4L | +14 GD

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Nick DePuy, Teal Bunbury, Aníbal Godoy 🇵🇦, Fafà Picault 🇭🇹, Jacob Shaffelburg 🇨🇦
Questionable: Lucas MacNaughton (groin)

The unbeaten streak was always going to come to an end during this stretch of matches but it was unfortunate to see it happen so soon against Montreal.

However, it wasn’t like Nashville played terribly. They had some opportunities against Montreal but just were not clinical enough and unfortunately there were very few options to change the game off the bench.

As the Gold Cup kicks off today so begins the extended absence of Aníbal Godoy, Fafà Picault, and Jacob Shaffelburg. On the bright side, Walker Zimmerman is back from Nations League duty and should slot back into the starting lineup.

Against Montreal, Gary Smith chose to switch away from the 4-4-2 diamond and play a three-man backline that just did not end up working out.

When asked about the change in formation post-match Smith said, “When I look back at the stats, I still think [switching to a back 5] was the right thing to do. We created enough to get something out of it and defended well enough to keep them off the scoresheet… I’ll still walk away bitterly disappointed to not get a point.”

The question is, does Nashville continue with that system tonight or does Gary revert back to the diamond, like he did mid-game?

That question isn’t easily answered, primarily down to the attacking options available. Shaffelburg was available Wednesday but has since reported to National team duty. Teal Bunbury missed Wednesday’s game with an injury and did not travel with the team but was flying to meet them in Columbus.

Ideally, he will be fit enough to start but I think the staff would settle for him being available off the bench. If he is unable to go, Ethan Zubak will more than likely be given an opportunity to start up top along side Mukhtar with Leal in behind.

The ‘Yotes will need to be able to get the job done with the attackers on the field because the reinforcements off the bench just don’t exist.

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: 2-1 (Columbus)
Scorers: Mukhtar
MOTM: Zelarayan
Bold Prediction: The mood turns sour when Nashville fans realize that there are no attacking pieces on the bench to call upon.

Valair Shabilla

Score: 2-1 (Columbus)
Scorers: Mukhtar
MOTM: Cucho
Bold Prediction: Nashville SC will have 60% possession

Ben Wright

Score: 2-0 (Columbus)
MOTM: Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Zimmerman hits the bar at least once

Jonathan Slape

Score: 2-2
Scorers: Mukhtar, Leal
MOTM: Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar gets both a goal and an assist

Fan Forecast

Preview Pod

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Columbus Crew SC
Odds: CLB (-105), Draw (+260), NSH (+280) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, June 24
Time: 6:30 pm CDT, Field, Columbus, OH
TV: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 82°/64° Cloudy. 7% chance of rain. 78% 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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