Preview: Inter Miami CF vs Nashville SC

After a much-needed week off, Nashville SC return to action against an Inter Miami CF side that they’re all too familiar with. Can the Coyotes get a bounce back win after a poor start to the 2024 season?

Head-to-head

Meetings: 12
Nashville SC wins: 4
Draws: 5
Philadelphia Union wins: 3

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Inter Miami CF

1st (East) | 15 points | 4W-3D-2L | +5 GD |
Last match: 3-2 win at Sporting KC
Power Rankings: 6th
Most goals: Luis Suárez (6), Lionel Messi (5)
Most assists: Julian Gressel (3), Luis Suárez (2)

Availability report

OUT: Jordi Alba (hamstring), Facundo Farias (knee), Leonardo Campana (hamstring), Ian Fray (knee), Sergii Kryvtsov (hamstring), Federico Redondo (knee), Robbie Robinson (knee), Robert Taylor (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE:

Miami have dealt with plenty of injuries of their own, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Robert Taylor, Benjamin Cremaschi, Federico Redondo and more missing matches already this year. Facundo Farías is out for the year with a knee injury suffered in preseason, and now Jordi Alba is set to miss the next two weeks with a knock picked up in midweek Concacaf Champions Cup action against Monterrey.

Even with injuries, Miami have still put together a strong start to the campaign. They’re tied with LA Galaxy at the top of the Supporters’ Shield race, and their 19 goals scored are the most in the league. Now out of Concacaf competition, their focus shifts solely to the league and winning MLS Cup.

Nashville are more familiar with them than anyone. The two sides have played each other 12 times since their 2020 debuts. Saturday will be their fifth meeting since Lionel Messi joined last summer. Nothing about this Miami team will surprise Nashville.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t help Nashville much in terms of getting a result. Miami have depth and quality rarely seen in MLS, and now with players like Benjamin Cremaschi nearing a return, their midfield becomes more dynamic behind one of the most dangerous frontlines in MLS.

Julian Gressel, a former Nashville trade target, has settled into a role on the right side of Tata Martino’s three-man midfield. He’s more than capable of hitting defense-splitting passes centrally, but he’s also the perfect counter for Messi’s preference to drift centrally, able to swing wide and deliver some of the best service in MLS to Luis Suárez.

Suárez, meanwhile, is tied at the front of the Golden Boot race. Sure, he’s in constant pain and struggles to run off the ball, but his instincts in the box and finishing ability are unrivaled. All he needs is one sniff of a chance to punish teams. That’s a scary thought for a struggling Nashville defense.

Nashville SC

14th (East) | 7 points | 1W-4D-2L | -5 GD |
Last match: 2-1 loss vs Philadelphia Union
Power Rankings: 25th
Most goals: Sam Surridge (2), Teal Bunbury (2)
Most assists: Hany Mukhtar (3), Jacob Shaffelburg (2)

Availability report

OUT: Shaq Moore (hip), Walker Zimmerman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Tyler Boyd (hip), Randall Leal (hip)

Nashville SC are finally close to full health after a brutal stretch of injuries. Randall Leal is back in training and could make his first appearance of the 2024 season, while Tyler Boyd is back in the squad after missing the last two matches with a hip injury.

Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore may not be ready until next week, and who knows if Leal will be ready to start, but in theory his return solves one of Nashville’s biggest issues. Hany Mukhtar hasn’t been able to receive the ball close to goal, and instead has dropped deep to find touches. Leal (and Boyd, to a lesser extent) are able to link midfield with the forward line, allowing Mukhtar and Surridge to stay higher without becoming isolated. Leal’s injury track record has been brutal over the last two seasons, so there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll be able to stay healthy, but it should give fans something to be excited about, however long it lasts.

The other big question comes in defense. Nashville have been awful without Walker Zimmerman. Jack Maher has fallen out of favor, looking uncertain and shaky at the back, especially when deciding whether to step up or hold his line. Brent Kallman and Josh Bauer aren’t full-time starting-quality defenders, but they’ve both been preferred over Maher recently. What Gary Smith opts to do against Miami’s loaded attack will have a major impact on the match.

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: Miami 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Luis Suárez, Sam Surridge, Diego Gomez
MOTM: Luis Suárez
Bold Prediction: Nashville keep things level until the 75th minute, after which Miami grab a late winner.

Chris Ivey

Score: Miami 3 – 0 Nashville
Scorers: Lionel Messi (x2), Luis Suárez
MOTM: Lionel Messi
Bold Prediction: Nashville control less than 40% possession.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Miami 3 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville go down by two goals early and fight back to level, but concede a late winner.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Miami 2 – 0 Nashville
Scorers: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez
MOTM: Jacob Shaffelburg
Bold Prediction: Nashville play well and win the xG battle but it’s not enough to earn three points.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: Miami 3 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez (x2), Sam Surridge
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: Nashville get hit with two quick goals early, and it’s too much to overcome.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Miami 1 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Miami finish with over 65% possession.

Fan Forecast

Pre-match quotes

Match info

Teams: Inter Miami CF vs Nashville SC
Referees: Ismail Elfath (Ref), Corey Parker (AR1), Kyle Atkins (AR2), Elvis Osmanovic (4th), Chris Penso (VAR), Tom Supple (AVAR)
Odds: MIA (-230), Draw (+350), NSH (+550)
Date: Saturday, April 20, 2024
Time: 6:30 pm CDT, Chase Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Commentary: Keith Costigan and Maurice Edu (English), Sammy Sadovnik and Diego Valeri (Spanish)
Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Sirius XM
Forecast: 87°/69°. 80º at kickoff. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 70% humidity. 3-12 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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