After a disastrous performance at home against the Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC heads back out on the road. The ‘Yotes head to Ohio to take on rivals, FC Cincinnati, in their last match before the Leagues Cup Break. Can Nashville bounce back from two straight defeats? Will Cincinnati extend their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference?
1st (East) | 48 points | 14-6-2 | +12 GD |
Power Rankings: 1
Injuries / Absences:
Out: Dom Badji (quad), Gerardo Valenzuela (quad)
Questionable: Yuya Kubo (hamstring)
Much like Nashville, FC Cincinnati has dealt with player absences due to the Gold Cup and during that time has managed to keep up the impressive pace that they started the season with. With the elimination of the United States, Cincinnati gets Matt Miazga and Brandon Vasquez back just in time for tonight’s game.
When these two teams last faced each other, FCC came a way with a late 1-0 win to hand Nashville their first home loss of the season. Tonight Nashville will look to return the favor, but will have their hands full. Cincinnati have outscored opponents 3-1 at TQL Stadium.
Pat Noonan has done a fantastic job of managing his squad with all of the Gold Cup absences and the sale of Brenner. Tonight, he will not only have Matt Miazga and Brandon Vasquez available for selection but new DP Aaron Boupendza could make his debut.
The biggest question for Noonan is what he does in the attack with his new DP and Brandon Vasquez available. One thing for sure is that Lucho Acosta will be on the field. Much like Mukhtar, Acosta has found himself at times as a second striker or as an attacking midfielder behind two forwards. Vasquez did not play the full 90 on Wednesday against Panama so I would expect to see him slot straight back in as well.
Outside of the attack, the other two players Nashville will have to keep their eyes on are Obinna Nwobodo and Yerson Mosquera.
Nwobodo came in last season as a DP and plays as a defensive midfielder. He does a fantastic job of breaking up play and stopping counterattacks really before they can begin. He is second in the league in tackles with 42 and fourth in interceptions with 41. He will spend a lot of his time marking Mukhtar and cutting off service two him.
Mosquera was an off-season addition this year and has been one of the best defenders in the league. He can play really any position in a three-man backline and tonight should find himself at the left center back position. Third in the league with 42 interceptions, he is a mobile defender with great positional awareness.
Will Nwobodo and Mosquera have enough to keep Mukhtar from finding the back of the net tonight?
3rd (East) | 38 points | 11-5-7 | +11 GD |
Power Rankings: 3
Injuries / Absences:
Out: Nick DePuy (achilles)
Questionable: Jack Maher (lower body)
Suspended: Dan Lovitz, Shaq Moore
Internation Duty: Aníbal Godoy
Nashville had done a good job of navigating the holes in the squad due to the Gold Cup but the past two matches have gone a long way to undo that work. The ‘Yotes now find themselves with two straight losses and a trip to the best team in the league.
With one last match before the All-Star and Leagues Cup break, Nashville needs to get a result on the road to set itself up for the final 10 games of the season.
Not only did Nashville lose their match against the Union but they also lost both fullbacks to red cards. That coupled with the injury to Jack Maher, puts Gary Smith in the position of having to cobble together a defense.
The 4-4-2 diamond has been the preferred lineup but with the injuries and suspensions, I expect to see a reversion back to the back three. Lukas MacNaughton and Walker Zimmerman will make up two of the three and I expect to see Josh Bauer come in as the third. Bauer opportunities have been limited for much of the season but when called upon, he has performed well.
At wingback, Taylor Washington and Alex Muyl will lineup on the left and right respectively, and will be responsible for keeping the Cincinnati wingback in check. Washington’s speed will be key to tracking back and at times the wingbacks will form more of a five-man back line.
With Aníbal Godoy still away with Panama, the options for Smith are quite limited. Ján Greguš has never been an option in a two-man midfield so it will more than likely be Dax McCarty and Sean Davis for those two positions. There is a small chance that Brian Anunga could feature as a more defensive option but with so many other changes, Smith will favor his first-choice options.
Hany Mukhtar leads the league in goals scored but has found himself in the midst of a goal drought having not scored in five matches. If Nashville wants any chance of getting a result, Mukhtar has to find the back of the net. Tonight, he will lineup behind Fafa Picault and Teal Bunbury as he looks to help reignite the Nashville attack.
Score: Nashville 0-2 Cincinnati
Bold Prediction: Cincy adds a second late as NSC pushes for an equalizer. 4 Way ordered by me as I am the one Nashville fan who loves Skyline
Score: Nashville 3-1 Cincinnati
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Hany Mukhtar scores a late penalty to salvage some dignity
Score: Nashville 2-2 Dallas
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Lukas MacNaughton
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores early in both halves but is unable to hold onto the lead.
Score: Nashville 2-1 Cincinnati
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Nashville goes up early and spends the res of the time defending.
Teams: FC Cincinnati v. Nashville SC
Odds: CIN (-120), Draw (+250), NSH (+310) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, July 15
Time: 6:30 pm CDT, TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV: Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 80°/65°. Cloudy. 48% chance of rain. 97% humidity