Preview: Nashville SC vs Columbus Crew

After being handed the worst loss in club history last week, the Boys in Gold are looking to get their season back on track. Their first opportunity to right the ship is on Saturday against defending MLS champions, the Columbus Crew.

Head-to-head

Columbus Crew

4th (East) | 10 points | 3W-1D-1L | +3 GD |
Last match: 2-0 loss @ Charlotte FC
Power Rankings: 3rd

Availability Report: (Updated Friday evening)

Nashville SC aren’t the only team trying to forget last weekend. Although for different reasons, the Columbus Crew are right there with them. Their last match against Charlotte saw some bizarre refereeing decisions, a red card and a missed penalty all in the first half which lasted 62 minutes. Just watch the highlights – it’s hard to explain.

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The Crew were undefeated until that Charlotte match, which was by all means an anomaly. Otherwise, they’ve looked just as sharp this season as they ended the last season.

They are winning matches while playing the best soccer in the league, the perfect combination of results and performances. While their possession heavy system is not flawless, it is close to it.

Wilfried Nancy has fully transformed the Crew since taking over in 2023. Results and performances are nice, but the way the players believe in him is truly what sets him apart. He’s able to get the most out of “average” players and the superstars alike.

Speaking of superstars, just like the Crew, Cucho Hernández doesn’t seem to be slowing down. He has four goals and an assist in all competitions already this season. He’s undoubtedly an early candidate for MVP, and no one will be surprised if he wins it at the end of the season.

The Crew will enjoy having starting goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, midfielder Aidan Morris, and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe back from international duty. On the other hand, they will be missing defender Rudy Camacho and forward Christian Ramírez due to injuries sustained during the Charlotte match. Former Boy in Gold Derrick Jones will also not be available due to a red card in the aforementioned match.

Lastly, the Crew has a huge Champions Cup match coming up on Tuesday against Mexican gigantes Tigres. It’s quite possible that Nancy will rotate some of the squad or pull players off early in the second half.

Nashville SC

11th (East) | 6 points | 1W-3D-1L | -4 GD |
Last match: 5-0 loss @ LAFC
Power Rankings: 24th

Availability Report: (Updated Friday evening)

It doesn’t take an expert to see that things in Nashville are not trending in the right direction. While they were missing players to international duty and injuries, no excuses can be made for losing 5-0 to LAFC.

After a hectic start to the season, Nashville SC finally had one full week to prepare for LAFC. However, that didn’t seem to help them. This time around, they’ve had another full week in between matches and players returning from international duty. Nashville is still undefeated at GEODIS Park this season, something that will definitely be an advantage to Gary Smith and his men.

As I mentioned above, Columbus doesn’t have many flaws. However, a constant issue they’ve had to deal with is being balanced on both sides of the ball. Their style of play naturally allows for vulnerabilities in defense, usually related to committing too many men forward.

Playing a high line and an offense-first mentality is something Nashville SC can take advantage of, especially with Columbus missing one of their starting center backs, Camacho.

Most importantly, Nashville need to eliminate or at least decrease individual errors. It’s one thing to concede goals to quality sides, but gifting the opponent easy goals is simply unacceptable for a Gary Smith side.

It’s very clear that if Nashville want to get anything from this game, they need to go back to the basics. Absorbing pressure and relying on set pieces and counter attacks is Nashville’s only way of improving their form.

Matchday -2

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 2-2 Columbus
Scorers: Surridge, Gaines
MOTM: Surridge
Bold Prediction: Nashville draws in stoppage time given Columbus history of leaking goals late

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 1-3 Columbus
Scorers: Mukhtar
MOTM: Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar takes at least seven total shots, Columbus score two in the final 15 minutes.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Nashville 0-1 Columbus
Scorers: A defender from a set piece
MOTM: Maher
Bold Prediction:NSC falls back on ol’ reliable. Park that bus. But it’s not enough. Less than 1.5 xG for both teams combined and the Crew pull off the smash and grab at Geodis

Christina Moore

Score: Nashville 2-2 Columbus
Scorers: Moore, Surridge
MOTM: Surridge
Bold Prediction: Columbus should win but Geodis is the difference maker, NSC will score first and last.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Nashville 1-2 Columbus
Scorers: Surridge
MOTM: Surridge
Bold Prediction: Columbus get the go ahead goal after the 86th

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Columbus Crew
Odds: NSH (+205), COL (+120) via DraftKings
Date: Saturday, March 30
Time: 7:30 pm CDT, GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN
TV: MLS Season Pass – Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Forecast: Considerable cloudiness. Low near 55F. Winds SSW 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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