After impressing in a surprising 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo, Nashville got a much needed full week of rest. Tonight, the welcome a familiar foe, FC Dallas makes their first trip to Nashville after two matches in Dallas. Will the Boys in Gold be able to keep their undefeated home streak alive? Will Jhonder Cádiz get his first start? What can we expect from this FC Dallas team?
The match against Houston was full of surprises and first for this team. It was the first time Walker Zimmerman did not start a match; the first time neither Aníbal Godoy or Dax McCarty started in midfield; the first start for Jack Maher; the first time Gary Smith implemented a 3 center back system and most importantly the first time Nashville scored 3 goals in the first half. Like many fans, I was apprehensive about Nashville’s chances once the lineup was posted, but that apprehension quickly washed away.
Against Houston, Nashville continued their trend of starting fast but were able to capitalize on a strong start and score multiple goals early. Against Kansas City, Nashville scored an early goal but had been unable to go and get the second goal. The strong start was defined by the break out performance of Hany Mukhtar as he scored the club’s first ever brace along with a secondary assist.
Tonight against FC Dallas, Hany Mukhtar looks set to miss out with an injury. We have seen players listed on the injury report be fit to play but with six matches in the next 29 days Nashville would be wise to avoid any potential long term injuries. Smith has handled Mukhtar very delicately this season, and he may well be holding him out to keep him fresh for Friday.
With a little over four weeks left in the season, Nashville SC finds themselves squarely in the playoff picture with 21 points. With two games in hand over the majority of the Eastern conference, Nashville could potentially move themselves to 6th place. A win tonight, moves them just three points off of NYCFC. Can Nashville capitalize on this opportunity?
Against Houston, we saw a huge departure from the 4-2-3-1 that Gary Smith has leveraged for the majority of the season, lining Nashville up in a 5-2-3/ 3-4-3 hybrid. A large part of that decision was dictated by injuries and need for rotation. With the majority of first choice players fit, I would not be surprised to see him go with a similar lineup again.
In the attack, Abu Danladi should continue as the central striker until Jhonder Cádiz is up to match fitness. We got our first look at Cádiz last week who impressed in his substitute appearance. It was his first match since March so it may be another week or so until he starts but can still make an impact off the bench. Behind Danladi, Randall Leal and Alex Muyl will lineup on the left and right, respectively. Hany Mukhtar is unfortunately out with an injury and Randall Leal will need to step up in his absence.
Dax McCarty got some much needed rest against Houston with Matt LaGrassa and Brian Anunga filling in for him and Aníbal Godoy. LaGrassa and Anunga both played brilliantly against Houston but I expect them both to move to the bench to make way for Godoy and McCarty. The back five from Nashville should give both midfielders a bit more freedom and allow them to push up a little.
The biggest shake up of the backline against Houston came at the fullback position. Daniel Lovitz was rested, Alistair Johnston was suspended and Walker Zimmerman was injured. Taylor Washington deputized for Lovitz again as he continues to solidify himself as a second choice option at leftback and Eric Miller made a return to the starting 11. By all indication the trio of Lovitz, Johnston and Zimmerman should return to the starting line up against Dallas. The change in formation could really suit Lovitz and Johnston, who both push up the field and get involved in the attack. Alistair Johnston thrived as a wingback at Wake Forest and should continue to do so against Dallas in the same position
It has only been a little over two months since Nashville SC played FC Dallas but in a compressed schedule it feels like a lifetime. Much like Nashville, FC Dallas find themselves squarely in the playoff positions but still need a few more wins to lock up a playoff berth.
When these two teams last met, Franco Jara had just recently joined the team but now has been fully integrated in this side. He will start up top for FC Dallas and look to cause problems for the Nashville backline. Luckily the Nashville defense Paxton Pomykal and Santiago Mosquera will both miss out. Pomykal picked up a season ending injury that required surgery and Mosquera is in the process of returning from an injury.
On the defensive side, FC Dallas will look a bit different. Reggie Cannon made his move to Europe when he was sold to Boavista in Portugal. He was a big part of their defensive solidity but also a important part of the offense. Ryan Hollingshead has been playing the majority of minutes since Cannon’s departure but does not offer the same quality. At centerback, Matt Hedges is still out with an injury meaning that Bressan and Reto Ziegler will be the two starting centerbacks. Both are capable defenders but without Hedges, they are far more susceptible to aerial threats.
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: David Accam, Dom Badji, Hany Mukhtar, Ken Tribbett
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Paxton Pomykal, Santiago Mosquera, Matt Hedges
Score: Nashville 2 – 0 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville continues with the back five.
Score: Nashville 3 – 0 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Abu Danladi
MOTM: Dax McCarty
Bold Prediction: Nashville’s goal total matches their xG for the match.
Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal, Alex Muyl
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Leal puts in a Man of the Match performance, notching both a goal and an assist.
Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal, Jhonder Cádiz
MOTM: Randall leal
Bold Prediction: Cádiz scores his first goal.
Score: Nashville 3 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal, Alex Muyl, Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: All Three of Nashville’s goals come in the second half
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After a weekend off, #EveryoneN returns to Nissan stadium to take on #DTID as they look to solidify their playoff position.— Speedway Soccer (@SpeedwaySoc) October 19, 2020
Vote in our #FanForecast poll and reply with a bold prediction. #NSHvDAL
Teams: Nashville SC (9th place, 5-6-6) vs FC Dallas (6th place, 6-4-6)
Date: Tuesday, 10/20/20
Time: 7:30 PM Central, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 81°/60°. Cloudy. 1% chance of rain. 76% humidity.