Playoff Preview: Nashville SC vs Columbus Crew Sc

Tuesday night, Nashville SC secured an 1-0 win over Toronto FC late in extra time. Tonight, they travel to Ohio to take on Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. How different will the Boys in Gold look from that September match? What can we expect from Caleb Porter’s team?

Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew SC come in to this match after a 3-2 win over New York Red Bulls. It was a match that was largely overshadowed by the antics in the Orlando City SC shootout right before, much like tonight’s match has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 outbreak within their team.

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Columbus Crew will be without 7 players, including two who started their last match against New York Red Bulls on the 21st. Head coach Caleb Porter will have to find a way to set up his team with out Eloy Room in net and Derrick Ettienne Jr. out on the wing. These will be key misses, but thankfully all of the player are asymptomatic and seem to be healthy. We are all hoping for a speedy recovery.

Eloy Room will be the biggest miss for this Crew team, but they have had to cope with his absences several times this season. He picked up an injury during MLS is Back and missed four straight starts, as well as a three match span in the middle of October. He is a fantastic shot stopper, but Andrew Tarbell is a more than adequate backup.

Projected Columbus Crew lineup

In many ways, Caleb Porter has used a similar 4-2-3-1 lineup to Nashville, mixed in with the occasional more traditional 4-4-2 formation. Tonight I would expect to see Porter to go 4-2-3-1 and took to control the midfield, especially with Darlington Nagbe and Artur available.

The biggest question for Porter will be what he does at right wing. Ettienne Jr. is a great two way winger who works back and allow right-back Harrison Afful to push higher up the pitch. In his place, Luis Díaz should slide in to that position.

However, Columbus does have other option they could look at as well. Krisztián Németh was picked up at the end of the MLS transfer window and, while primarily a striker, saw some of his best performances with Sporting Kansas City out on the wing.

Nashville SC

While Columbus will look similar to what they did back in September, that will not be the case for Nashville SC. When they last faced each other, Nashville’s offense had not yet begun to click. Even though they had just scored four goals against Atlanta United, they were without Randall Leal and Jhonder Cádiz hadn’t yet arrived in Nashville.

Columbus Crew were at the height of their form. However, Nashville had yet to really find their groove. Nashville was beaten on that September night but proved they could go toe to toe with the best.

The Columbus Crew will be a tough task in and of itself, and potentially even tougher.

Projected Nashville lineup

Going into tonight’s match, there was very little question about what we could potentially see from Coach Gary Smith. The only was question was if Aníbal Godoy would able to recover from his hamstring issue. Unfortunately, Godoy was listed as “not medically cleared” on Friday’s injury report. While he could theoretically pass a late fitness test and make the bench, for now it seems as though he’ll miss out. As a result, we should expect an unchanged lineup from Tuesday.


Nashville SC

OUT: Aníbal Godoy, Jack Maher (not medically cleared)

Columbus Crew SC

OUT: Vito Wormgoor
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Eloy Room, Derrick Etienne Jr., Walyon Francis, Sebastian Berhalter, Miguel Berry, John Kempin


Ben Wright

Score: Columbus 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville has less than 40% possession but is able to outshoot Columbus

Andy Simmons

Score: Columbus 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Joe Willis
Bold Prediction: Willis records eight saves en route to the shut out.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Columbus 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Cádiz stays onside for his goal and is only called offside one other time.

Davey Shepherd

Score: Columbus 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar with a goal and an assist

John Sloop

Score: Columbus 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores first.

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

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC (7th place, 8-7-8) vs Columbus Crew (3rd place, 12-6-5)
Date: Sunday, 11/29/20
Time: 7:00 PM Central, MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 53°/33°. Clear. 2% chance of rain. 57% 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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