Nashville SC are back in preseason action today. They’ll take on FC Cincinnati in Clearwater, Florida, after knocking off Charlotte FC 3-1 last week. Again, fans and media won’t be able to watch the match, and highlights of the Charlotte game were sparse. Frustratingly, information will be incredibly limited again, but the usual talking points still hold true.
1. The lineup
Head coach Gary Smith used a new look front three, with Aké Loba and Hany Mukhtar flanking CJ Sapong. It worked; the Coyotes scored twice in the first 16 minutes, with all three forwards involved. It wasn’t without its challenges, though.
“Whilst it gives us a more aggressive feel and some very bright moments for sure, there are some things that we have to work through if that’s going to be a future shape,” said Smith. “Looking out there today, they shouldn’t be too difficult to correct. However, when you become stronger in one area, there’s a chance that you become a little bit weaker in another. It’s those areas that we’ve just got to be mindful of.”
Walker Zimmerman got into even more specifics.
“[Charlotte] were dropping their six in between their two center backs, trying to create a numerical advantage in the back,” he said. “It was a difficult task for the front three, granted that they were usually outnumbered between having low fullbacks and having the six drop between the center backs, but I think they did a good job of containing and then in transition when we won the ball, they did a great job of being in good spots to go forward.”
Obviously the primary job of the front three is to score goals, and they did that. And Smith said that any issues with how they defend shouldn’t be too difficult to work out. Still, he’ll want to make sure that they defend well from the front against Cincinnati today, in addition to creating and converting chances.
The starters only played the first half against Charlotte. They should progress to at least 70 minutes today, with some even going the full 90. Nashville will play 120 minutes against Cincinnati today, but the “extra time” portion of the match is likely to be played by guys who didn’t start the match.
It’s a chance to see where Nashville are in terms of fitness, as well as which players are the first options off the bench.
Results don’t matter in preseason. But Nashville’s frontline need to continue building chemistry and having success in front of goal. Loba in particular has been a preseason standout, and much of Nashville’s 2022 success hinges on him. A loss today won’t sound any alarm bells, but a favorable scoreline with some goals by the frontline won’t hurt their confidence heading into Seattle.
As has unfortunately been Nashville (and most of MLS) tradition, the match won’t be streamed. We’ll talk with Gary Smith and Aníbal Godoy after the match, with a recap of the action posted later. Follow @SpeedwaySoc on Twitter for coverage during the match.