Preview: FC Dallas vs Nashville SC

After a 1-1 draw against Minnesota United, Nashville SC travel south to Texas to take on FC Dallas. These two teams faced off four times in Nashville’s inaugural season, but after no meetings in 2021, both sides look much different. Can Nashville pick up their second win of the season? Will FC Dallas play spoiler and pick up their first win of the season?

FC Dallas

Current standing: 10th (West) | 0-1-1 | -1 GD

OUT: M Nicky Hernandez (leg surgery)

Shop MLS Jerseys at

Last season was essentially one to forget other than the rise of Ricardo Pepi. They fired long-time coach Luchi Gonzalez after a disappointing start to the season and missed out on the playoffs.

The offseason saw them make several changes. Some good, like trading for Paul Arriola, hiring Nico Estévez and locking down homegrown attacker Jesús Ferreira to a Young-DP deal. Others have presented their own challenges, such as the sale of Ricardo Pepi and the loss of Ryan Hollingshead.

Nico Estévez is a long-time Gregg Berhalter assistant coach who has stepped into a head coaching role for the first time since his days as the Valencia B team coach. Estévez’s style of play is very similar to that of the US Men’s National Team. Expect to see a 4-3-3 that will look to control possession through the midfield and look for the vertical threat out on the wing. Nashville’s fullbacks will have to ensure they don’t get pulled too wide and leave gaps in the channel for midfielders to run in behind.

The key addition in the attack for FC Dallas is winger Paul Arriola, acquired in a blockbuster trade with DC United in the offseason. He brings a level of offensive creativity and defensive work rate that could cause a lot of trouble for Nashville’s fullbacks. Gary Smith is a big fan.

“I’ve said it multiple times,” he said of Paul Arriola in his pre-match press conference. “He’s one of my favorite MLS players. He’s a complete wide player. If I had more money in my piggy bank, I would have given it to Mike [Jacobs] and we could have maybe made a play at him.”

Outside of Arriola, Nashville will have to find ways to keep Jesús Ferreira from getting on the ball and linking together the attack. He will play as a bit of a false nine; looking to drop a little bit into midfield to get on the ball before distributing out to the wingers and making late runs into the box.

If Nashville can nullify these two players, they will shut down the majority of the attack.

Nashville SC

Current standing: 4th (West) | 1-1-0 | +1 GD

OUT: M Koze Donasiyano (left thigh)

The Coyotes continued to utilize their new look 4-3-1-2 formation against Minnesota as they came away from the match with a 1-1 draw. While it was not the result that Nashville wanted, the performance in the first half was one of the most open games of soccer this team has played on the road. They were unfortunate to go into the half only up by one goal.

While there have been some criticism that the addition of a third midfielder limits the creativity of this team, the stats show a bit of a different story. As Chris Ivey pointed out, Nashville SC has the 8th most pressures in the attacking third. The high number of pressures illustrate what Gary Smith is trying to do on the offensive side during this extended road trip.

In Gary Smith’s four prior seasons with the ‘Yotes, it is quite rare for him to deviate from a system that is working and bringing success. However, this match against Dallas could see Coach Smith return to the 3 back system that Nashville used through the majority of last season.

Many may hope that the change of formation would be to make room for Aké Loba, but more than likely it would be made to bring in Jack Maher to the defense for Dax McCarty. As good as McCarty has been for the first two weeks, it would be nice to have a midfielder of his quality come off the bench to either push for a goal or help lock down a win, and the back three system was key to Nashville’s improved attack in 2021.

If in fact, if we do see that change, I expect to see the front three of C.J. Sapong, Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal together causing problems for that Dallas backline. Sapong will be able to occupy the center backs while Mukhtar and Leal are able to find pockets of space to combine with Godoy and Davis.

If the ‘Yotes play as they did in the first half of Minnesota, they should come out of Dallas with another road win.

Pod picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Dallas 0 – 3 Nashville
Scores: Hany Mukhtar x2, Randall Leal
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: One of Mukhtar’s goals is a candidate for goal of the week.

Lucas Panzica

Score: Dallas 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Walker Zimmerman, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar scores a penalty

Jonathan Slape

Score: Dallas 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores early in both halves and cruises to a comfortable 2 goal win.

Davey Shepherd

Score: Dallas 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar x2
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Loba subs on before the 60th and looks bright playing w/ CJ and Randall.

Chris Ivey

Score: Dallas 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal x2
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Loba gets his first start of the season.

Ben Wright

Score: Dallas 1 – 3 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar x2, Aké Loba
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Dax McCarty doesn’t start

Fan Forecast

Kit matchup

Match Info

Teams: FC Dallas vs Nashville SC
Odds: Dallas (+150), Draw (+220), Nashville (+175) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, March 12
Time: 7:30 PM Central, Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV: MyTV30 (in market), ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: iHeartRadio Online (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 56°/36°. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 26% 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.

Leave a Reply