Preview: Nashville SC v Philadelphia Union

After a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy, the road trip is over! Tomorrow, Nashville SC makes their much-anticipated debut at GEODIS Park as they take on Eastern Conference leaders, Philadelphia Union.

Will Nashville SC open up their new home with a big three points? Will the Union play spoiler and keep up their impressive form?

Nashville SC

Current standing: 8th (West) | 3-2-3 | -1 GD

OUT: Teal Bunbury (knee), Robert Castellanos (ankle surgery), Koze Donasiyano (thigh)

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After eight games on the road; 43,000 miles traveled; an impressive 1.38 ppg game the Coyotes finally make their debut at GEODIS Park. For players and fans alike this is sure to be a special moment.

Outside of opening the largest soccer-specific stadium in the country, it has been a week full of headlines for Nashville SC. They picked up new minority owners in Reese Witherspoon, Jim Toth, and Derrick Henry that gave a bit of star power to the ownership group. Most importantly, Walker Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar made long term commitments to the Boys in Gold.

Fans will be ecstatic to see both players sign new contracts and will hope that it means even bigger performances for the two against the Union.

Against the LA Galaxy, Coach Gary Smith started an unchanged XI from the 2-2 draw against San Jose Earthquakes. Both Coach Smith and Mike Jacobs, have talked about being more expansive at home but I dont expect that to be instantaneous.

Against the Philadelphia Union, I expect that we see Coach Smith roll out the same XI for the third match in a row but expect to see a slight shift in tactics.

Up top, Hany Mukhtar will, of course, start alongside CJ Sapong with Randall Leal underneath. With the Union in a more narrow 4-4-2 diamond, I would expect to see Leal drift out wide and turn the formation into a 3-4-3. It will create a few numerical mismatches and open up some space in the midfield.

An unchanged XI means that captain Dax McCarty would start the game from the bench. As difficult of a decision as that is, the partnership of Sean Davis and Aníbal Godoy has been fantastic. They will be faced with a packed Union midfield that will look to dictate play. They will have to cover a lot of ground to disrupt the Union’s play.

We have seen Alex Muyl begin to find his footing at right-wingback and will be instrumental to Nashville being more expansive at home. Having an attacking threat down the right side of the pitch should help open up some space for Lovitz down the left.

We know that this team will be defensively sound but do we see a massive uptick in attacking opportunities now that this team is at home?

Philadelphia Union

Current standing: 1st (East) | 5-2-1 | +7 GD
Essential Reading: Zoomed N on Philadelphia Union with Brotherly Game

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Santos (hamstring)

The Philadelphia Union have started the season off in impressive form. Top of the East and just one point behind Supporter’s Shield leaders, LAFC. Fresh off a 1-1 draw, they now look to spoil Nashville’s party.

The last time these two last played each other, it ended with the Union advancing after a penalty shootout. Like last season, a tight match between two well-matched teams.

Last season, Head Coach Jim Curtin played a variety of formations but relied heavily on a 4-3-2-1 formation. In the offseason, the Union went out and made some key additions at the forward position as they brought in Julian Carranza on loan from Inter Miami FC and acquired Mikael Uhre from Brøndby IF. as a result we have seen Curtin use a 4-4-2 diamond.

The Union have been very solid at the back this season and currently are tied for the best defensive record in the league. Andre Blake continues to be the lynchpin of that defensive record but the young center back pairing of Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliot have really stepped up a level this season. They will have their hands full with the physicality of C.Js Sapong and quickness of Hany Mukhtar.

The key for Philadelphia is to win the midfield battle but to do that, they have to complete their passes. Through the first eight matches, they have the worst passing percentage in the league. The diamond midfield allows the Union to have a numerical advantage in the middle of the park which should prevent Nashville from breaking out in transition. However, with only a 66% completion rate, they are losing the ball often.

If the Union can up their pass completion rate, they stand a good chance of getting a result against Nashville.

Pod picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 2 – 0 Philadelphia
Scores: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Zimmerman scores on a set piece

Lucas Panzica

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Philadelphia
Scorers: Walker Zimmerman C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Aké Loba does play before the 80th minute.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2 – 0 Philadelphia
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville limits Philadelphia to only 2 shots on target.

Davey Shepherd

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 Philadelphia
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Nashville scrape out a draw with an unchanged XI.

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 Philadelphia
Scorers: C.J. Sapong
MOTM: C.J. Sapong
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores from a set piece.

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 3 – 0 Philadelphia
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2), Aké Loba
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville take at least twice as many shots as Philadelphia.

John Sloop

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Philadelphia
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville gives up a late goal to Philadelphia.

Fan Forecast

Kit matchup

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC vs Philadelphia Union
Odds: Nashville (+120), Draw (+200), Philadelphia (+250) via BetMGM
Date: Sunday, May 1
Time: 3:00 PM Central, GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tennessee
Radio: iHeartRadio Online (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 83°/53°. Mostly Sunny 20% chance of rain. 42% 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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