Preview: Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC

After getting their second win of the 2024 season, Nashville travel to Charlotte FC looking to build on last weekend’s performance. Can the Coyotes make it back-to-back wins, or will Sir Minty’s Boys continue to be a difficult test at home?

Head-to-head

Meetings: 4
Nashville SC wins: 2
Draws: 1
Charlotte FC wins: 1

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Charlotte FC

6th (East) | 14 points | 4W-2D-5L | -1 GD
Last match: 2-0 win vs Portland Timbers
Power Rankings: 16th
Most goals: Kerwin Vargas (2), Patrick Agyemang (2)
Most assists: Patrick Agyemang (1), Nathan Byrne (1)

Availability report:

Charlotte have been one of the best sides in MLS when playing at home. Only Inter Miami and NYCFC have more points at home in the Eastern Conference and have earned a solid 2.16 points per game. Dean Smith hasn’t reinvented the wheel in his first season in MLS, but he’s raised the floor already for this team.

Here’s what I wrote about Charlotte ahead of their match against Nashville in March (it still holds up):

“Under Smith, Charlotte are very direct. They sit in a compact mid-block and look to hit opponents in transition and on set pieces.

Their system is highly dependent on dynamic wingers being able to not just isolate and beat defenders, but to drift inside and play-make from the half spaces. Iuri Tavares has been one of the early standouts of the 2024 season. After excelling for Crown Legacy last year in MLS NEXT Pro, Tavares has started each of Charlotte’s opening three matches, contributing a goal and an assist.”

Charlotte added DP winger Liel Abada after their 1-2 loss in Nashville, and he’s looked good in his first handful of appearances. He picked up a thigh strain that will keep him out for the next few weeks, meaning an in-form Kerwin Vargas and Iuri Tavares look set for the start on either wing.

Enzo Copetti is potentially another notable absence, although his lack of performance on the pitch has made him expendable. Reports began circulating this week that the underperforming DP striker is close to signing with Argentine outfit Rosario Central. In his absence, Patrick Agyemang should get the nod.

The second-year pro is a physical nightmare for defenses, able to threaten in a number of different ways. He has the pace to stretch the backline, the flexibility to vary his starting points, and the strength to holdup the ball and link play. He’s put himself in fantastic scoring positions all season, but the finishing touch has been lacking. He’s a prime candidate to break out, and Nashville will be hoping it doesn’t happen on Saturday.

Nashville SC

12th (East) | 11 points | 2W-5D-3L | -4 GD
Last match: 4-1 win vs CF Montreal
Power Rankings: 21st
Most goals: Sam Surridge (5), Hany Mukhtar (2)
Most assists: Hany Mukhtar (4), Jacob Shaffelburg (3)

Availability report:

Nashville SC put in a classic Nashville SC performance last week, ceding possession, dominating from set pieces, and killing Montreal in transition. It was a performance reminiscent of their best moments in MLS, and featured a hat-trick from Sam Surridge.

The DP No. 9 has been criticized for lack of consistent production since signing last summer, but it’s been somewhat unfounded; he’s quietly scored seven goals in just under 800 minutes in all competitions in 2024. He’s seventh among MLS strikers in non-penalty xG per 96 minutes played, and only Luis Suárez, Dejan Joveljic, and Christian Benteke are scoring more non-penalty goals per game than the striker. He’s been quite good, and it feels like he’s just getting started.

Saturday marks the start of a full week for Nashville, who will take on Toronto midweek and Atlanta next Saturday. Especially for players like Aníbal Godoy, who has started all but three of Nashville’s matches, rotation could be on the cards.

Walker Zimmerman made his first start after returning from injury, while Tyler Boyd came off the bench against Montreal. Shaq Moore is also inching closer to a return, but how and how much the three feature in Carolina remains to be seen.

Nashville’s bread and butter is transition. Every team around the league knows that, and their ability to get Mukhtar on the ball in space waned significantly after Leagues Cup. They’ve looked much better in their last three games, even in their loss to Miami and draw with San Jose. If they can continue to find Mukhtar in space and get the ball to Surridge’s feet around the box, good things will happen.

Nashville enter the contest on top of the Southern Championship Belt standings, with their 2-1 win against Charlotte in March the only match to count for the regional in-season cup. The Coyotes have claimed the supporter-organized belt every season since its inception in 2022.

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: Charlotte 2-2 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge, Tyler Boyd
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: Surridge continues his hot streak with first-half goal from a quick counter attack, and Nashville double Charlotte’s xG but can’t get three points in a very tough place to play.

Chris Ivey

Score: Charlotte 1-1 Nashville
Scorers: Tyler Boyd
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: We see a red card in this fierce MLS Rivalry Week match featuring two clubs who are as close to each other as Glasgow and London.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Charlotte 0-2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Charlotte takes no more than two shots on target.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: Charlotte 1-2 Nashville
Scorers: Jacob Shaffelburg, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Charlotte scores first, but just like 2023, they can’t hold the lead.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Charlotte 1-2 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge, Dru Yearwood
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar notches two assists.

Fan Forecast

Pre-match quotes

Match info

Teams: Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC
Referees: Armando Villarreal (Ref), Cory Richardson (AR1), Chantal Boudreau (AR2), Tori Penso (4th), Jorge Gonzalez (VAR), Robert Schaap (AVAR)
Odds: CLT (+110), Draw (+220), NSH (+255)
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2024
Time: 6:30 pm CDT, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Commentary: Eric Krakauer & Jalil Anibaba (English), Oscar Salazar & Jaime Macias (Spanish)
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Radio Commentary: Will Boling & Eddie Carvacho
Forecast: 73°/51°. 70º at kickoff. Mostly sunny. 0% chance of rain. 56% humidity. 4-8 mph wind.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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