Preview: Nashville SC vs Los Angeles FC

Nashville SC bounced back from their disastrous loss against Charlotte FC with a resounding 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders. Tonight, they play Los Angeles FC for the first time in MLS history. LAFC comes into the match with a full week of rest and some new signings.

Can the ‘Yotes pick up a second win in a row against one of the top teams in the league? Will LAFC’s attacking firepower prove to be too much for this Nashville team?

Nashville SC

Current standing: 4th (West) | 8-6-6 | +1 GD
Injuries

OUT: Robert Castellanos (ankle), Aníbal Godoy (thigh)

Nashville SC not only arrested their three-game winless streak on Wednesday night but put in one of their most impressive performances this season. The Seattle Sounders may not be at their peak form, but they came into GEODIS Park with a lineup packed with firepower.

The Coyotes started off the match on the front foot, pressing the Sounders team high up the pitch at times and creating opportunities when they won back possession. Outside of the result, Nashville securing their first clean sheet in six matches provides a ton of positives going into tonight.

Predicted Nashville SC XI

Against the Sounders, Gary Smith abandoned the three-man backline and returned to a four-man defense he used extensively during his time in Nashville. Smith has talked about his desire to utilize the back four more but with Eric Miller as the only right back on the roster, there have been challenges using that formation on a consistent basis.

With the impending signing of Shaq Moore, I would expect to see the back four feature heavily going forward, including tonight.

The past month and a half have been riddled with goalkeeper controversy. Joe Willis went through a drastic dip in form which led to Elliot Panicco being given the opportunity to win the starting job. However, Panicco has had his own struggles. Against Seattle, Gary Smith started Willis for the second match in a row and looks to have the starting job back.

For a team that has been built on defensive solidity, they have struggled to keep clean sheets. Up until last night, the last clean sheet was the 0-0 draw at home against San Jose Earthquakes. Against LAFC, keeping a clean sheet will be tough but not out of the question. If Nashville can sit back and play compact, they can frustrate the LAFC offense.

Walker Zimmerman is always motivated, but tonight, there will be just an extra layer of motivation as he plays his former team for the first time. Maybe we even see another Zimmerman goal.

Los Angeles FC

Current standing: 2nd (West) | 12-3-4 | +17 GD
Required Reading: Zoomed N on LAFC with Alicia Rodriguez
Injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Brian Rodríguez (right leg)
OUT: Julian Gaines (pelvis), Danny Musuvski (left leg)
SUSPENDED: Diego Palacios (yellow card accumulation)

Before Nashville came into the league, Los Angeles FC were one of the best expansion teams that Major League Soccer has seen. However, they took a much different approach as they relied on some big name stars such as Carlos Vela and a former USMNT manager in Bob Bradley.

The start of this season was a bit of a new era for the Black and Gold. Bob Bradley left to pursue a different challenge at Toronto FC and left the team searching for a new coach. Former academy coach and USMNT star, Steve Cherundolo stepped into his first head coaching position leading LAFC to a second place position in the Western Conference.

A win tonight would move them into first place both in the Western Conference and the Supporter’s Shield Standings.

Predicted LAFC XI

Tonight’s match-up against Nashville is filled with narrative and first. It is the first time these two teams will face each other and the first opportunity for Walker Zimmerman to play against the team that traded him away. To cap all of that, Giorgio Chillieni will be making his first start and appearance while Gareth Bale will be on the bench for the first time.

Steve Cherundolo has utilized both a three-man and four-man backline this season, but his preferred formation is a 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder in the middle of the pitch. The team will look to play on the front foot and create attacking opportunities on the break. While still the high flying attacking side of years past, they are stronger defensively. Nashville’s best chance will be to play compact and minimize opportunities in transition.

Up top, LAFC will lineup with a front three with Carlos Vela out on the right-hand side. He will look to drift inside and get shots off on his preferred left foot. Daniel Lovitz will have to work to limit those chances to receive the ball in those dangerous positions while also dealing with Ryan Hollingshead on the overlap.

If LAFC can exploit gaps in this Nashville team, the Boys in Gold could be in for a long night.

Pod picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 Los Angeles
Scores: Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Bale makes his debut for LAFC after 60 minutes

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2 – 1 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Zimmerman scores the game-winner against his old team.

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1 – 1 Los Angeles
Scorers: C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Sapong toasts Chiellini for his goal.

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 2 – 2 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Bale scores on his debut, Mukhtar scores two second-half goals

Lucas Panzica

Score: Nashville 3 – 3 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2), C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Gareth Bale Scores

Fan Forecast

Kit matchup

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC vs Los Angeles FC
Odds: Nashville (+155), Draw (+230), San Jose (+160) via BetMGM
Date: Sunday, July 17
Time: 7:30 PM Central, GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: TUDN, Twitter
Radio: iHeartRadio Online (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 93°/74°. Partly Cloudy 15% chance of rain. 62% humidity

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