On Wednesday night, Nashville SC saw their unbeaten streak come to an end as they lost 0-1 to visiting FC Dallas. This afternoon, the Boys in Gold travel to Orlando for the third time this season as they chase 6th place on Decision Day. What can we expect from Nashville? What do they need in order to avoid the play in round?
Nashville has secured their spot in the playoffs and have a chance to avoid the play in rounds. The Speedway Soccer crew has been discussing all week if it’s better for Nashville to get a home playoff match, or skip the play-in round all together. With news of Aníbal Godoy and Randall Leal being called up for their national teams, avoiding the play in round is imperative to give them enough time to get back to Nashville and through the quarantine protocols.
Ben Wright has broken down what all Nashville needs to go to finish in sixth place.
…And for seventh and eighth:
Gary Smith will go as full strength as he can this afternoon, and should lineup in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. The biggest question will be who he starts up top. Daniel Ríos has been the preferred option up top, but there is a chance that Jhonder Cádiz gets the call after going 45 minutes on Wednesday night. The ability to bring one of the two off the bench later in the game alongside the likes of Handwalla Bwana could prove to be the difference maker.
Orlando City SC
Aside from FC Dallas, Orlando City is the team with which Smith and Nashville have the most familiarity. But by the same token, Oscar Pareja will be adequately prepared. In the midweek, Orlando beat Columbus Crew 2-1 to move in to third place. It was an end to end match that saw captain Nani sent off for a red card (the sending off was rescinded on appeal and he’ll be available against Nashville).
Orlando will need to at least pick up a point today if they want to ensure they remain in third place. They are in a strong run of form and will be a tough opponent for Nashville.
Keys to the match
Limit chances to Dike: Darryl Dike has been in red hot form and will be a big threat to the Nashville backline. The midfield will need to cut out service to the Orlando forward to minimize his impact.
Minimize the impact out wide: Nani and Chris Mueller are both two of the most dangerous threats out wide. Johnston and Lovitz will need to keep them carefully marked and keep them from playing balls in to Dike.
Orlando City SC
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Dom Dwyer, Michael Holliday, David Loera, João Moutinho
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Dom Badji, Abu Danladi, Jack Maher
Score: Orlando City SC 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Daniel Ríos
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Gary Smith fields practically a first choice lineup
Score: Orlando City SC 2 – 0 Nashville
MOTM: Dax McCarty
Bold Prediction: Gary Smith sticks with heavy squad rotation, leaving midfield exposed as Godoy gets a rest.
Score: Orlando City SC 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Hany Mukhtar returns to the starting lineup and gets a goal and an assist
Date: Sunday, 11/8/20
Time: 2:30 PM, Exploria, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: CW58, ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 81°/74°. Thunderstorms. 80% chance of rain. 74% humidity.