Preview: Los Angeles FC v Nashville SC

After an abysmal 2-1 loss to Houston Dynamo, Nashville SC is on the road for Decision Day. They take on Supporter’s Shield winners, Los Angeles FC, as they chase a home playoff match. Can the ‘Yotes get the results they need? Will LAFC’s attacking firepower be too much for Nashville?

Los Angeles FC

Current standing: 1sh (West) | 67 points | 21-4-8 | +29 GD

Injuries

SUSPENDED: Jesús Murillo (Yellow Card accumulation)

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Steve Cherundolo’s Los Angeles FC clinched the Supporter’s Shield on Sunday with their 1-2 win at the Portland Timbers. LA had been the runaway favorites for the Shield for most of the summer but an 11 day stretch that included 3 straight losses closed up the gaps.

On paper, there may not be much to play for on the home side, but Cherundolo has been clear that they will be playing just as if everything was on the line. With a first-round playoff bye, Los Angeles will want to keep everyone in form and avoid an early exit, as we saw for all the top seeds last year.

LAFC was very active in the summer transfer window and while Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chillieni took all the headlines, Denis Bouanga has come in and made an impact, including the Supporter’s Shield winning goal last weekend. With all of the new additions, Cherundolo had to figure out how they all fit together. Winning the Shield was nice but the team is desperate to win their first MLS Cup.

The front three proved to be the toughest area to solidify but heading into the match against Nashville, and the playoffs, Denis Bouanga, Chicho Arango and Carlos Vela are the preferred front three.

They will look to pull the Nashville backline out of position with their fluidity. If Nashville isn’t disciplined, it could make for a very long match.

Nashville SC

Current standing: 5th (West) | 47 points | 12-11-10 | +10 GD

Injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Alex Muyl (concussion)

Nashville SC clinched a playoff spot before kicking off against Houston last Sunday and the way the results fell, had an opportunity to all but lock up a home play off match. Unfortunately, Nashville put in one of their worst performances of the season against a struggling Houston team.

Going into today’s match, Nashville needs to get a result and then get some help from the rest of the league. With a win against LAFC, Nashville needs FC Dallas to lose their match at home to Sporting Kansas City or an LA Galaxy loss/draw against the Houston Dynamo.

A draw in the match makes things a bit more complicated. To secure a home play off match with a draw the Boys in Gold would need the Galaxy to lose to the Dynamo, a Minnesota United loss/draw vs the Vancouver Whitecaps and a Portland Timbers loss/draw at Real Salt Lake.

Playoff seeding isn’t the only thing on the line to the Coyotes as Hany Mukhtar looks to wrap up the Golden Boot race. He currently sits atop the standing with 23 goals to Sebastian Driussi’s 21 goals. In the event of a tie, the Golden Boot goes to the player with the most assists (Mukhtar) so Driussi will need to score 3 more goals than Mukhtar today.

There have been times this season where the injury report has not been kind to the ‘Yotes, but aside from Alex Muyl being questionable with concussion symptoms, Nashville has a clean bill of health.

With a home playoff match on the line, I don’t expect to see anything different lineup-wise than what we did against Houston, even with Aníbal Godoy being taken off the injury report. Godoy will almost certainly make an appearance off the bench but expect to see the coaching staff easy him back in.

The only real question mark for the team sheet is at the striker position. C.J. Sapong is in a massive scoring drought, failing to score a goal since May 28th. Gary Smith has defended his selection, stating that Sapong allows Mukhtar to do what he does best but Nashville needs secondary scoring.

Opposing teams know that if they can shut Mukhtar down, they will effectively shut down the entire Nashville attack. That may be a difficult proposition for teams, but it could mean the difference between an early playoff exit and a deep run.

Pod picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Los Angeles 1 – 1 Nashville
Scores: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville has more possession and shots on target than LAFC

Ben Wright

Score: Los Angeles 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville gets a home playoff game

Jonathan Slape

Score: Los Angeles 1 – 1 Nashville
Scores: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar scores and wins the golden Boot

Fan Forecast

Kit Matchup

Match Info

Teams: Los Angeles FC vs Nashville SC
Odds: Los Angeles (-145), Draw (+310), Nashville (+320) via BetMGM
Date: Sunday, October 9
Time: 4:00 pm CT, Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California
TV: MYTV30, ESPN+
Radio: iHeartRadio Online (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 80°/63°. Sunny. 2% chance of rain. 93% 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.

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