Nashville SC picked up their fourth loss of the season on Saturday, falling 1-0 on the road to Philadelphia Union. With just three games left to go, they’re in third place in the Eastern Conference, meaning that three points against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday is crucial.
Cincinnati are the worst team in the league by a long stretch, but in a rivalry match with pride on the line, tonight’s match won’t be as simple as it appears on first glance.
Cincinnati are bad. Really bad. They’re about to win (lose?) their third consecutive Wooden Spoon, an MLS record.
According to American Soccer Analysis‘s Goals Added (G+) metric, Cincinnati are the third-worst attacking team in the league and have the fourth-worst G+ total. They’ve scored a paltry 33 goals in 31 games, and have conceded a league-worst 63. It’s hard to win much when you concede two goals a game.
Luciano Acosta has been the clear success of the season, combining for 14 goals and assists. Only five attacking midfielders have produced more than Acosta, and he’s been a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.
Brenner, signed ahead of the season to significant fanfare, has had a decent season, scoring seven goals in just under 2800 minutes. The pair of them will be a building block going forward, and if they’re to threaten Nashville, it will likely be through them.
Cincinnati’s midfield is significantly hampered without Allan Cruz, who will miss the match with a red card suspension. That means that Harris Medunjanin is the de-facto starter in midfield. He’s a capable passer of the ball, but at 36 years old, he lacks the legs to cover real ground, and has left the back four with more fires to put out.
Interim manager Tyrone Marshall is at the helm for just his seventh match since taking the job after Jaap Stam was fired. They’ve lost all seven matches, conceding a whopping 16 goals and scoring just seven. It’s hard to guess exactly how he’ll set up is team, but smart money is on the continuation of the 4-4-2 diamond system that general manager Chris Albright appears to have imported from Philadelphia.
Nashville will be without Dax McCarty and Daniel Ríos, both of whom miss out with injury. The good news is that Dan Lovitz is back from the foot injury that kept him out the last several weeks.
Aké Loba got just his second start in a gold shirt on Saturday against Philadelphia, and struggled to make an impact. While CJ Sapong has been the better option all season, it may be worth giving Loba another run out against sub-par opposition. Whoever starts up front, Nashville should have the quality to secure a much needed three points.
Availability report for #CINvNSH:#FCCincy— Ben Wright (@benwright) October 26, 2021
QUESTIONABLE: Gustavo Vallecilla (hamstring)
OUT: Maikel van der Werff (sports hernia), Beckham Sunderland (concussion)
SUSP: Allan Cruz (red card)#EveryoneN
OUT: Dax McCarty (hamstring), Daniel Ríos (lower leg)
Score: Cincinnati 1-4 Nashville
Scorers: Aké Loba, Hany Mukhtar (x2), Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Piñeiro makes the bench but doesn’t play
Score: Cincinnati 1-3 Nashville
Scorers: Aké Loba, C.J. Sapong, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Hany has a goal and two assists
Score: Cincinnati 0-3 Nashville
Scorers: C.J. Sapong, Hany Mukhtar, Aké Loba
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Loba comes off the bench and scores his first goal
KITS FOR TONIGHT— Nashville SC Kit Tracker (@NashvilleSCkits) October 27, 2021
Nashville SC: All Gold
FC Cincinnati: All Navy pic.twitter.com/hnWWG1vn0j
Teams: FC Cincinnati (14th) vs Nashville SC (3rd)
Power Rankings: FC Cincinnati (27) vs Nashville SC (5)
Odds: Cincinnati (+320), Draw (+240), Nashville (+-120) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, October 23
Time: 6:30 PM Central, TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV: MYTV30 (local), ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 59°/46°. Mostly Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 63% humidity