Preview: Nashville SC v Atlanta United

El Ribereño is back!

After a 1-0 win over San Antonio in the US Open Cup, Nashville welcomes Atlanta United to GEODIS Park. The ‘Yotes are looking to extend their unbeaten home record to four matches but Atlanta will be looking to get their first win at GEODIS.

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Nashville SC

6th (East) | 11 points | 3-3-3 | +3 GD |
Power Rankings: 11

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Nick DePuy (season-ending injury list)
Questionable: Randal Leal (lower-body injury)

The Boys in Gold played a cagey match on Wednesday night but in the end, were able to find enough to get the win over San Antonio. Like many other matches this season, they struggled to create offensive opportunities and managed just two shots on target.

Nashville turns its attention to a high-flying Atlanta team that has yet to get a win in Nashville since the Inaugural Game in 2020.

Wednesday nights match featured a heavily rotated squad with only Jack Maher and Alex Muyl starting both the Open Cup and LAFC matches. A few other first-teamers played a role but on the whole Nashville should be pretty fresh for the game against Atlanta. The real availability questions center around Sean Davis and Randall Leal.

Leal should be back in the squad and available off the bench but would expect to see his minutes restricted. He has already re-aggravated this injury once and the coaching staff will not want to risk it.

Sean Davis was omitted from both the starting lineup and squad against Los Angeles but was not on the injury report. He also missed the Open Cup match due to a suspension dating back to last year’s Open Cup. This week’s injury report does not include him so it is safe to assume he will slot right back in alongside Aníbal Godoy.

Up front, the options are quite limited after C.J. Sapong was traded to Toronto for Lukas MacNaughton. In his absence, Teal Bunbury will return in that starting forward position. Of course, Hany Mukhtar will lineup behind him in a more free attacking role.

At the back, Walker Zimmerman will be back in the defense after leaving the LAFC match early with a groin problem. Smith said that the decision to remove him was a precaution and that they managed to avoid any lasting damage. If he was unable to start, MacNaughton would slide in next to Maher.

Nashville will need to rely on their defense if they are going to stop Atlanta’s high flying attack.

Atlanta United FC

3rd (East) | 18 points | 5-3-1 | +5 GD |
Power Rankings: 7

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Ozzie Alonso (ACL recovery), Brad Guzan (MCL), Giorgos Giakoumakis (hamstring)
Questionable: Thiago Almada (lower leg), Franco Ibarra (ankle)

Unlike Nashville, Atlanta United did not have an enjoyable Open Cup match against Memphis 901 FC. The Five Stripes scored an early goal before giving up a late penalty to send the match into extra time where they gave up a second and were eliminated.

As disappointing as that defeat was, Gonzalo Pineda should have no problem getting his team refocused to play against a regional rival.

Pineda prefers to line his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and play a front-foot, attacking style of play. Typically they rely on their wingers to push up the field and allow their fullback to overlap. They prefer to maintain possession and dictate the pace of play. They can play on the counter when forced but should be on the front foot against Nashville.

Atlanta currently leagues the Eastern Conference in goals scored with eighteen through the first nine games. The attacking output is largely down to two players; Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Almada is a number 10 that made the move to Atlanta last season in a record-breaking transfer. He had some moments of brilliance last season but struggled to find consistency. This season has been quite a different story with four goals and five assists through seven games after playing for Argentina in their World Cup-winning campaign in Qatar. Nashville will be focused on stopping Almada at all costs.

Fortunately for the Coyotes, the task of stopping this Atlanta attack will be a little bit easier with the absence of Giorgos Giakoumakis. Their DP striker will miss the match with a hamstring injury, so expect to see Miguel Berry come into the lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, Atlanta has been relatively solid outside of the 6-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew. That match is a bit of an outlier when you consider how many they were missing due to international duty but it is still worth noting that they struggle to maintain a lead.

If Nashville can stop the Atlanta attack, they should have the opportunity to open them up on the counter.

Pod Picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 1-0 Atlanta
Scorers: Teal Bunbury
MOTM: Joe Willis
Bold Prediction: Joe says no with eight saves on the day

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1-0 Atlanta
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Atlanta manages only one shot inside the penalty area

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 2-0 Atlanta
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Atlanta brings over 500 fans in the away section

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2-1 Atlanta
Scorers: Fafa Picault, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar gets a late winner after they go down 0-1

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Atlanta United FC
Odds: NSH (+115), Draw (+240), ATL (+220) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, April 29
Time: 12:30 pm CDT, GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: FOX, AppleTV- Free
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 75°/52°. Cloudy. 20% chance of rain. 54% humidity

For more on the ancient lore of El Ribereño, we recommend this excellent podcast episode from Paradise Pod.

Author: Jonathan Slapeoriginated from outside of Atlanta but has lived in Nashville since 2005. Original member of Speedway Soccer and has been talking and occasionally writing about Nashville SC since the USL days. Self proclaimed official fashion correspondent. Outside of Nashville SC you can find him singing the praises of Jurgen Klopp, discussing the latest in sneakers and soccer fashion with a good stiff drink.

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