Preview: LAFC vs Nashville SC

Nashville SC head to the west coast with their first MLS win under their belts, looking for another three points against an LAFC side that has struggled early in the season.

Head-to-head

Meetings: 3
Nashville SC wins: 1
Draws: 1
LAFC wins: 1

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LAFC

10th (West) | 4 points | 1W-1D-2L | -4 GD |
Last match: 2-0 loss @ Minnesota United
Power Rankings: 24th

Availability report

OUT: Lorenzo Dellvalle (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Tómas Ángel (adductor)
INT’L: Omar Campos (Mexico U-23), Nathan Ordaz (El Salvador)

This isn’t your daddy’s LAFC team. Since Steve Cherundolo took over as manager, they’ve gone from being a team that plays free-flowing, attractive, possession-based soccer to one that is brutally pragmatic. They no longer try to break opponents down with the ball, but instead sit deeper and hit on the counter.

They haven’t been good to start 2024. After an opening-day 2-1 win against Seattle Sounders, they’ve lost three straight matches, held scoreless in all three.

Dénis Bouanga, the 2023 Golden Boot winner, has struggled to regain his form after contract talks and transfer rumors filled his offseason. He’s still dangerous, taking the third-most shots in MLS so far this season, but he has yet to find the net and has appeared frustrated at times.

The retirement of Giorgio Chiellini and the season-ending injury to Lorenzo Dellvalle has left LAFC rather thin at the back, and the absence of left back Omar Campos on international duty leaves a struggling backline with even less help.

LAFC have conceded five goals in their last three games. They’ve struggled defensively while lacking a cutting edge in the final third. This could either be a perfect time for Nashville to play them, or it could be the match in which LAFC finally get back on track.

Nashville SC

8th (East) | 6 points | 1W-3D-0L | +1 GD |
Last match: 2-1 win vs Charlotte FC
Power Rankings: 13th

Availability report

OUT: Randall Leal (hip), Walker Zimmerman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Lukas MacNaughton (hip)
INT’L: Aníbal Godoy (Panama), Jacob Shaffelburg (Canada)

Nashville finally got their first MLS win of 2024 under their belts last week, knocking off Charlotte FC 2-1 at Geodis Park. The win makes their unbeaten run to start their league play look significantly more impressive, bumping them up to eighth place in the East. Now, they’re able to solely focus on MLS, getting a break from the brutal stretch of eight games in 23 days to start the year.

Sam Surridge got his first goal of the league campaign, starting alongside Hany Mukhtar and Tyler Boyd for the first time since their Concacaf Champions Cup opener against Moca FC. Mukhtar and Boyd, though, have yet to open their MLS accounts, and both could use a breakout game.

The big questions with Nashville come down to absences. Walker Zimmerman is still out with the injury he suffered against Inter Miami, and is expected to miss another couple weeks. Randall Leal, who Gary Smith said over six weeks ago would miss 4-6 weeks, is also out. Aníbal Godoy and Jacob Shaffelburg are both on international duty. And now Lukas MacNaughton, the Coyotes’ best center back this season, is questionable with a hip injury.

Nashville’s defensive depth may be tested yet again this weekend, all while their attack continues to try and build off of their performance last weekend.

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: LAFC 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville equalize in the second half before conceding a late winner.

Chris Ivey

Score: LAFC 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: LAFC struggles to play with the ball, and Nashville sit back and get a goal on the break.

Valair Shabilla

Score: LAFC 2 – 2 Nashville SC
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: At least one goal is scored after the 85th minute.

Fan Forecast

Pre-match quotes

Match info

Teams: Los Angeles FC vs Nashville SC
Odds: LAFC (-230), DRAW (+340), NSH (+550)
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2024
Time: 9:30 pm CDT, BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, California
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Sirius XM
Forecast: 63°/53°. 56º at kickoff. Cloudy. 0% chance of rain. 88% humidity. 6-13 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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