Nashville SC welcome the Houston Dynamo to Nissan Stadium for their second consecutive home game. The Boys in Gold face off against a Dynamo team fresh off a 4-0 loss on the road to the Chicago Fire. Can NSC keep their win streak alive? What can we expect from both teams?
Wednesday night saw Nashville keep their home win streak alive with a 1-0 win over DC United. Nashville dominated the pitch of the majority of the game and were finally able to find a breakthrough as Daniel Ríos scored his first MLS goal against the 10 man DC United side.
The win, however, was not without a cost as the Boys In Gold lost another attacker to an injury. Dominique Badji pulled up on a run in the 21st minute and came off with what looked to be a hamstring injury. Nashville comes in to their match Saturday with only one fit striker available.
On Saturday, Nashville face off against a team that has been leaking goals at the back. Houston has given up eight goals in their past three matches including 4 to Chicago. Nashville should look to exploit their defensive gaps and catch the Dynamo out on the break. As long as Nashville is able to limit Memo Rodríguez and Darwin Quintero, they should be able to secure a result. NSC follows up this match with a full week rest that should allow them to get a few of their injured players back.
With all of the injuries that Nashville has Gary Smith wont deviate from his tried and true 4-2-3-1. He will be faced with a few selection headaches but the way Nashville plays will look the same.
Up top, Daniel Ríos is the only fit striker on the roster so it seems almost guaranteed that he gets the start. It will be interesting to see how he responds to knowing that the job is his for the foreseeable future. Behind Ríos, Alex Muyl will line up on the left and I expect to see Randall Leal make his return to the starting lineup. Hany Mukhtar missed out Wednesday night with a slight knock which allowed Derrick Jones stepped in at the 10. Jones but in a man of the match performance and was central to Nashville’s win. Smith may choose to give Jones another shot and allow Mukhtar some additional time to heal.
Dax McCarty was subbed out in the second half against DC for what Gary Smith described as being unwell. We do not know if that was a sickness or injury but if McCarty is unable to go, Brian Anunga would slot in for him alongside Aníbal Godoy. If Anunga starts, he will sit back a little further which will allow Godoy to drift up the pitch slightly.
Taylor Washington stepped in Wednesday night and put in a solid performance but should drop back to bench to make way for Daniel Lovitz. Lovitz will step in to the rest of the settled back line that will look to keep a Houston attack quiet.
Houston come in to the match in the midst of a slump. They are winless in their last 4 matches after starting the season well. Their last win coincided with Alberth Elis’ final game with Houston. It is safe to say, Nashville is catching them at the right time.
In Dustyn Richardson’s interview with Ben Wright he argued that with the departure of Elis, the Dynamo lack a true star. I would argue that they do have a star in manager Tab Ramos. USMNT fans will remember him from the 94 WC and his work as manager for the U-20 teams. Ramos plays an up tempo style of soccer that is focused on the attack. The Dynamo will look to press high and get the ball to the likes of Memo Rodríguez and Darwin Quintero.
Nashville should be able to find space if they are able to break down Houston’s press and could have opportunities to catch the Dynamo on the break. Alex Muyl and Randall Leal will be key to winning the ball high and exploiting the gaps.
OUT: David Accam, Dom Badji, Abu Danladi, Jimmy Medranda, Ken Tribbett
OUT: Michael Salazar (right knee)
SUSPENDED: Kiki Struna
QUESTIONABLE: Wilfried Zahibo (right thigh)
Score: Nashville 2 – 0 Houston
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Dave Romney
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Johnston gets a secondary assists on both goals
Score: Nashville 0 – 0 Houston
MOTM: Joe Willis
Bold Prediction: Willis stays busy in net with five saves.
Score: Nashville 2 – 0 Houston
Scorers: Randall Leal, Alex Muyl
MOTM: Daniel Lovitz
Bold Prediction: Lovitz returns from suspension and registers both assists.
Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Houston
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: All goals come in the second half.
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Teams: Nashville SC (9th place, 4-3-5) vs Houston Dynamo (11th place, 3-6-4)
Date: Saturday, 09/26/20
Time: 2:30 PM Central, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Univision / TUDN and Twitter
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 80°/62°. Partly Cloudy. 10% chance of rain. 69% humidity.