Preview: Nashville SC vs Moca FC (CCC)

After an eventful 3-0 debut for Nashville SC in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the Boys in Gold welcome in Dominican side Moca FC for the return leg. While this matchup may seem like a forgone conclusion, there are some interesting things to look out for.

Moca FC

The match between the two sides last week was also Moca’s debut in the Champions Cup. While they’ll be disappointed to not get anything from the match, it’s hard to say that they’ll be surprised. The Dominican side wasn’t expected to truly challenge, especially with Nashville valued at almost 200x more. 

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With that said, Moca will play like they have nothing to lose and will undoubtedly give it their all. For a lot of these players, playing the Champions Cup at GEODIS Park will be the biggest honor of their career.

Moca had some dangerous moments in the first leg, and even forced a save out of Joe Willis once. They’ll try to build upon that and make sure Nashville isn’t getting away with an easy win.

Counter attacks seem to be the main vehicle for any success for Moca. The goal will be to catch Nashville while they commit men forward. With Nashville already having a strong lead, Moca is hoping the Boys in Gold will have a slip up or two that they can take advantage of.

Moca will most likely maintain their lineup from the last game, but one player that impressed is Roberto Louima. The Haitian left winger was subbed in the second half and gave Nashville a good bit of trouble down the flank.

Nashville SC

Nashville SC starts 2024 with an extremely congested schedule, averaging two games a week for the first couple of months. With that said, the expectation is to have a rotated lineup Wednesday night. The 3-0 win in the first leg affords them that luxury.

Gary Smith will have to be careful to not rotate too heavily. At the end of the day, there are still 90 minutes of soccer to play, and wilder upsets have happened before. For players who do get to play, it’ll be a prime opportunity to show their brilliance and make a case for further inclusion. It is doubtful that many homegrown or Huntsville players will see a lot of minutes, but it’s not out of the question that a few could be on the bench.

Fringe first team players are almost guaranteed some minutes. The likes of McKinze Gaines, Amar Sejdić and Brian Anunga might get 90 minutes or close to it, an opportunity that might not come during the MLS regular season, especially with the U.S. Open Cup in jeopardy.

This is also an opportunity for attacking players to get on the scoresheet and gain some confidence. Moca’s lack of quality will allow Nashville to have more chances than ever, especially playing at home. Several Nashville attackers can do with a goal, top that list are Jacob Shaffelburg and Teal Bunbury.

Wednesday night might also be the return of Elliot Panicco. The Leagues Cup hero hasn’t been able to win the starting job since the tournament concluded.

Nashville will undoubtedly be the better side, and they’ll know that going into the match. Playing with high confidence should produce an entertaining match with plenty of excitement and goals.

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 4-0 Moca
Scorers: Tyler Boyd (x2), McKinze Gaines, Teal Bunbury
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: All four goals come before 60th minute. Cruise control after that, and Gary has them work on possession and ball movement.

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 4-0 Moca
Scorers: McKinze Gaines, Jacob Shaffelburg, Alex Muyl, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Jacob Shaffelburg
Bold Prediction: Nashville triple Moca’s shot total.

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2-0 Moca
Scorers: McKinze Gaines, Tyler Boyd
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores two early and then struggles to convert a third.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Nashville 3-0 Moca
Scorers: Walker Zimmerman, Dru Yearwood, Jacob Shaffelburg
MOTM: Jacob Shaffelburg
Bold Prediction: Nashville signs a Moca player to Huntsville City FC.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Nashville 2-0 Moca
Scorers: Teal Bunbury, Tyler Boyd
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: Moca will finish the match with more possession

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Moca FC
Odds: NSH (-3000), TOL (+1600) via DraftKings
Date: Wednesday, February 28
Time: 8:15 pm CDT, GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN
Radio: No radio
Forecast: 67º/34º. 0% chance of rain at kickoff. Partly cloudy skies. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.

Author: Valair Shabillamoved to Nashville as a refugee from Iraq at the age of 14. A fan of soccer from a young age, he used soccer to connect with a larger community in Nashville and adapt to life abroad. He's covered Nashville SC since 2019, co-hosting Pharmaceutical Soccer, and analyzing soccer from an audio/video perspective.

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