After a disappointing loss to Sporting Kansas City, Nashville SC continue their road trip as they travel down to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo. Last time these two teams met, the Boys in Gold gave up a late equalizer. How will they line up as they look to get back into the playoff positions? What can we expect from Houston?
For 55 minutes against Sporting Kansas City, Nashville SC looked as dominant as they have been all season. There were some missed opportunities, but Nashville had control of the match. 60 seconds flipped that on its head. A goal from Gerso Fernandes and a red card from Alistair Johnston in the space of a minute allowed Sporting Kansas City to gain the foothold they needed.
Nashville fans saw their first glimpse of a Walker Zimmerman-less team. Zimmerman was withdrawn for the first time all season in the 64th minute to preserve his fitness. ““I wanted to make sure that problem didn’t become an issue that we lose him for a period,” head coach Gary Smith said after the match. “He’s a warrior of an individual. He was touch and go during the warmup, so to get him for an hour was good for us.” Now it’s a question of if Zimmerman will be able to play against Houston tonight.
Good news for Nashville fans is that the injury list is dwindling for the Boys in Gold. Aníbal Godoy is back from injury and for the first time since the Atlanta match, Jimmy Medranda is available for selection. However, don’t expect to see Medranda make the game-day roster straightaway. He will need time to get up to match fitness.
Aside from what happened on the pitch Sunday evening, what did not happen was a big story. After finally being cleared to practice last Wednesday, Jhonder Cádiz was not included in the match day roster. Cádiz has not played a match since March will need to be eased in. He could make the bench for tonight’s match, but that’s probably the most we’ll see for a bit.
With return of a true forward, Gary Smith returned to his favored 4-2-3-1 formation against Kansas City and should continue with that tonight. When these two teams last met, the Dynamo sat back a bit more and looked to counter. At Home, Houston will look to press up a little higher which could leave gaps for Nashville to exploit.
Abu Danladi is the de facto starter up to until Jhonder Cádiz is match fit. Danladi’s speed, coupled with Houston’s lack thereof will allow Nashville to play on the shoulder. Nashville should be able to get in behind the Houston defense. Hany Mukhtar made the bench Sunday but did not see the field. He should be fit to return to the starting lineup but if not, Derrick Jones has proven to be a capable backup. Out wide, Randall Leal and Alex Muyl are almost guaranteed locks to start. While Leal will line up on the right and Muyl on the left, expect to see plenty of fluidity between them and Danladi. Leal is more prone to drift inside as well.
Not only is Aníbal Godoy off the injury report, he was a full participant in training yesterday. We could see Godoy slot straight back in but it is probably more likely he comes off the bench and give rest to either McCarty or Anunga. If Godoy is to start, I would expect to see McCarty rested as he’s had to take on an even larger role in Godoy’s absence.
The backline has been a stable group with the same five players being called upon week in and week out but tonight’s match could see some drastic change. Alistair Johnston will miss out due to his red card suspension and after being withdrawn Sunday, could Walker Zimmerman miss out? He was not listed on the injury report, but Smith said he was touch and go Sunday. If Zimmerman is fit, Jalil Anibaba should slot in on the right as he did when Nashville last faced Houston. If Zimmerman is not fit, there are several permutations that we could see: Anibaba could slot in at center-back and bring Eric Miller or Brayan Beckeles on the right; or Anibaba could line up at right-back and rookie Jack Maher could get his first start. Keep your eyes peeled for the lineup tonight.
Since these two teams first played each other, Houston has gone 1-1-1. A 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, a 2-0 win over FC Dallas and a 1-0 loss Sunday to Inter Miami. Houston will need to pick up points against Nashville if they want to stay in the playoff hunt.
After MLS is Back, Houston came out of the gate strong, winning their first three matches during the return to play but since selling Alberth Elis, Houston has managed to win only one of their eight without Elis. Darwin Quintero went from a complement to Elis to being the main attacking threat and currently leads the team with six goals and eight assists. If Houston can get service to Quintero, he should be able to find space down Nashville’s right flank.
At Nissan Stadium, Coach Tab Ramos had his team sit back in a mid block and look to counter when opportunities were presented. At BBVA, they will look to press a little higher up the field. This should give Memo Rodgriuez some space to float between the lines and offer chances for late runners in to the box. They will have to ensure they dont leave gaps in behind. Houston’s back line is not particularly fast and will need to be mindful of Nashville’s forwards.
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: David Accam, Dom Badji, Daniel Ríos, Ken Tribbett
SUSPENDED: Alistair Johnston
OUT: Michael Salazar (right knee)
Score: Houston 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville have another strong first half. They score and hold on to the lead for the remainder of the game.
Score: Houston 1 – 0 Nashville
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Houston scores late in extra time
Score: Houston 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Alex Muyl
Bold Prediction: Muyl provides both assists including a late winner to Mukhtar.
Score: Houston 0 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Godoy returns to the lineup and puts in a Man of the Match performance.
Score: Houston 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal, Alex Muyl
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville dominates the entire match and never loses control.
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Teams: Nashville SC (11th place, 4-6-6) vs Houston Dynamo (9th place, 4-7-6)
Date: Wednesday, 10/13/20
Time: 7:00 PM Central, BBVA Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: MyTV30, ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 87°/71°. Sunny. 10% chance of rain. 59% humidity.