Nashville SC are back on the road after their two game home stand ended with a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution. Tonight, they travel up to Harrison, New Jersey to face off against the Montreal Impact in a match with huge playoff implications. Can the Boys in Gold move up the table? What can we expect from Thierry Henry’s team?
With four Games left to go, Nashville is squarely in the play off picture as they sit in 8th place, four points above the playoff line. With a game in hand over the majority of playoff teams, Nashville could move up to 7th tonight with a win. With 12 points left to play for, Nashville is rounding in to form at just the right time.
Against New England, Gary Smith implemented a change in formation, going back to the 3-4-3 that was successful against the Dynamo. Nashville had some trouble creating chances against a Revolution team that dominated possession and was able to cut out Nashville’s counter attacks. Against Montreal, Nashville should be able to gain control of the match a bit more and find more opportunities.
The match tonight will come a bit too early for Hany Mukhtar, who is still dealing with a muscle injury. Coach Gary Smith ruled him out in his post match press conference and said he could be in contention for the match Saturday. I would expect Nashville to be overly cautious with his recovery, making sure not to rush him back and potentially lose him for the playoffs. Randall Leal will be tasked with carry the creative responsibilities in Mukhtar’s absence and should receive help from the likes of Derrick Jones and Alex Muyl as well. Handwalla Bwana is still unavailable as he is finishing up his league mandated quarantine process.
Nashville come in to the match with an extra day of rest that could prove crucial in a match that could set the tone for the playoff race. When asked about the importance of tonight’s match Walker Zimmerman said, “It’s important for us because three points for us also means zero points for them. It’s a chance for big movement in the standings and ultimately for us, to get where we want to go, we need to make sure we’re the team that gets three points.”
After sending most of the season in a 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 hybrid, Coach Gary Smith has changed shape to a back three a few different times. When everyone is healthy, I think it provides the ability to get all of Nashville’s best players in their most dangerous positions and has definitely allow Hany Mukhtar to perform at his peak. Against Montreal, Nashville will probably revert back to the 4-2-3-1. The formation switch should allow Nashville to create some overloads against Montreal’s 5-3-2.
We will likely see some rotation in forward and midfield spots. Abu Danladi has started the last four matches, and asking him to start a 5th match in 20 days may be a tough ask for a player, especially one who has struggled with injury this season and throughout his career. Daniel Ríos and Jhonder Cádiz are the other two options for Smith, and I expect Ríos to get the start with Cádiz coming off the bench as he continues to build match fitness.
In the midfield, Aníbal Godoy struggle a bit against New England and was replaced by Dax McCarty in the 59th minute. According to Smith, it was a preplanned substitution as Godoy is regaining fitness after his time out. McCarty is also struggling with a calf issue but looked lively on Friday night. Brian Anunga seems like a lock to start in the double pivot, but who partners him in midfield could still be up for grabs. Could Matt LaGrassa make a return to the starting lineup?
Twenty matches in to his MLS coaching career, Thierry Henry’s Montreal Impact are finally starting to show how they want to play each week. They play primarily a 5-3-2 that will look to create opportunities through quick passing moves. They have proven that they can score goals, but struggle to keep others from scoring. With 39 goals allowed, they have the worst defense in the Eastern conference.
Sitting in 9th place, just two points behind Nashville, Montreal have performed well given the situation. Due to the Covid restrictions, they have played Toronto FC four times and haven’t played a home game in Montreal since September 9th. “What we know is we are going to face is a very good footballing side,” said Gary Smith. “I think Thierry [Henry]’s influence on the team is starting to show. They have their own difficulties in the current schedule. Staying away from home I am sure is not easy for that group.”
Nashville comes up against Montreal at a good time. The Impact have lost three of their last four and are conceding 2.25 goals per game during that same span. Nashville will need to take their chances when they come. Against Houston and Dallas, Nashville was able to punish teams for their mistakes and will need to do the same tonight.
Montreal’s biggest threats will come from their forward line. Bojan, Romell Quioto, Mason Toye and Max Urruti are all available for Henry in tonight’s clash. Nashville’s defense doesn’t make many mistakes, but those players will be there to capitalize on any missteps. In the midfield, Victor Wanyama will look to dictate play and if Nashville can nullify him, they should be able to get a win.
NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED: David Accam, Dom Badji, Hany Mukhtar, Ken Tribbett
OUT: Lassi Lappalainen (shoulder), Mathieu Choinière (foot)
Score: Montreal 1 – 3 Nashville
Scorers: Daniel Ríos (x2), Randall Leal
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores three, because everyone knows Nashville never scores two.
Score: Montreal 1 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Nashville creates more shots but is out possessed
Score: Montreal 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal, Jhonder Cádiz
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville finally scores a goal scoring two goals in a match for the first time. Andy tweets about Henry at least seven times during the match.
Score: Montreal 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Gary Smith changes shape again.
Score: Montreal 2 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal (x2)
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores the first two goals.
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After two straight matches at home, #EveryoneN travel up to Red Bull Arena to take on #IMFC as they look to solidly there position in the playoff race.— Speedway Soccer (@SpeedwaySoc) October 26, 2020
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Teams: Nashville SC (8th place, 6-6-7) vs Montreal Impact (9th place, 7-11-2)
Date: Tuesday, 10/27/20
Time: 6:00 PM Central, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
TV: MyTV30, ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 60°/49°. Mostly Cloudy. 10% chance of rain. 57% humidity.