Preview: Nashville SC vs FC Dallas

In their penultimate home match, Nashville SC picked up a hard fought 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire FC. With two matches left to play, the Boys in Gold get ready to take on familiar opponent, FC Dallas. What can we expect from this Nashville team? Will Hany Mukhtar return to the lineup? Join us as we look ahead to Wednesday’s match.


Nashville SC

Saturday night saw Nashville take on a Chicago Fire FC team that is surging at just the right time. The midfield pairing of Álvaro Medrán and Gastón Giménez was among the best that Nashville have yet faced. They were able to take control of the midfield away from Nashville and shut down attacks quickly. Against Dallas, however, the Boys in Gold wont have such a difficult test.

Coming in to Wednesday’s match, Nashville sits in seventh place and can move level on points with sixth place New England, behind only on goal difference. As things stand, a seventh place finish puts Nashville having to face Chicago again in the play in round. Chicago Fire are the one team that I want to avoid in the play in round. Between the match on Saturday and against Philadelphia, they are a team in form.

In the lead up to the Chicago match, there was a hope that Hany Mukhtar would be fit and at least on the bench but unfortunately he missed out as he is regaining fitness. Head coach Gary Smith said post game, “He’s physically healthy. He’s been out two or more weeks. He just needs more work. He’s working well. He’ll be available for selection next game.” I expect to see Mukhtar start from the bench and come on in the second half as he gets back up to speed.

In the pre-match press conference, we got confirmation that Handwalla Bwana will be available for selection. Bwana is an exciting prospect, but one I do not expect to see much the rest of the season. At 21 years old, he seems to be signing for the long term.

Finally, in the press conference we got some insight into where Daniel Ríos and Jhonder Cádiz fit in the pecking order. Coach Smith said that with Ríos in a great run of form, it is up to Cádiz to take that spot from him. Ríos has four goals in the last five matches. Cádiz will need to start scoring if he wants that starting spot. Cádiz got his first goal in their last match against FC Dallas, and will be hoping to repeat his performance.

With two matches left to go in the regular season, Gary Smith will look to stick with his normal 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 formation that has gotten Nashville to where they are. I don’t expect so see any changes to the starting lineup from the Chicago match. If we learned anything from the last two years in USL, it’s that Gary Smith will go with his in-form players down the home stretch.

Up front, Ríos is the in form striker and the one that Gary Smith will start off with against Dallas. When these two teams last faced off, Ríos was just coming back from fitness but saw a ton of success against the FC Dallas defense. He will look to replicate that again tomorrow. Behind the striker, Randall Leal will be the main creative option out on the left. He starts wide, but often drifts inside and play balls in to the feet of Derrick Jones and Daniel Ríos. Jones should start in place of Hany Mukhtar, but I would expect to see Mukhtar early on in the second half. Jones and Leal will, of course, be joined by the industrious Alex Muyl.

We have seen more rotation in the double pivot over the course of the past month with both Brian Anunga and Matt LaGrassa starting matches as there have been a few nagging injuries with Aníbal Gody and Dax McCarty. Godoy and McCarty should both start. Their pairing gives Nashville the best chance to pick up three points and move up the table. They should have a much easier night against Dallas than against Chicago.

Week after week, I run out of plaudits to pour on to this defense. The second best defensive record, one goal behind Columbus. The most clean sheets in the league. And arguably the league’s best defender in Walker Zimmerman. Unless there is an injury, don’t expect to see any rotation on this backline.


FC Dallas

By now, Nashville SC will know what to expect from Luchi Gonzalez’s FC Dallas. They will look to press high at times and transition quickly once they win the ball back. They have yet to defeat this Nashville team in three attempts. Is the fourth time the charm?

Since their last trip to Nashville, FC Dallas has won two of their last three matches including a 3-0 win over Houston on Saturday afternoon. A win against Nashville would propel Dallas to 4th place on points-per-game, out of the Western Conference play in round. FC Dallas will be heavily motivated to be the first team to win at Nissan since Atlanta United.

From a lineup standpoint, expect to see a similar lineup to what Nashville faced on October 20th. Franco Jara has been in excellent form and will start up top in the 4-2-3-1 as usual. The changes will come in defense and midfield. Matt Hedges is back healthy and should return to the center of defense alongside Bressen. Bryan Acosta will not be available after and should be replaced by Thiagio dos Santos.


INJURY REPORT

Nashville SC

NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Abu Danladi, David Accam, Dom Badji, Ken Tribbett

FC Dallas

NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: Paxton Pomykal, Bryan Acosta


POD PICKS

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 1 – 0 Dallas
Scorers: Daniel Ríos
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Dallas takes at least five more shots than Nashville

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Jhonder Cádiz, Randall Leal
MOTM: Jhonder Cádiz
Bold Prediction: Cádiz come on as a sub and provides the game-winner

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2 – 0 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.

Davey Shepherd

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Randall Leal, Daniel Ríos
MOTM: Randall leal
Bold Prediction: Looks to be a more convincing win than the score line would suggest.

John Sloop

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Dallas
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Jhonder Cádiz
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: All Three of Nashville’s goals come in the second half


Have a prediction for this week’s match? Vote in our Fan Forecast.


MATCH INFO

Teams: Nashville SC (7th place, 7-6-8) vs FC Dallas (6th place, 8-5-7)
Date: Wednesday, 11/4/20
Time: 7:30 PM Central, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: MyTV30, ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 69°/46°. Sunny. 10% chance of rain. 50-% humidity.

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