Preview: Nashville SC v DC United

After a three game road trip, and a full week rest, Nashville SC returns home to Nissan Stadium. Nashville will be looking to bounce back from a 2-1 road loss to Inter Miami CF as they take on an in-form DC United. Will Nashville bounce back and pick up three points at home? Will DC be able to hand Nashville their first defeat at Nissan Stadium?

Nashville SC

The three match road trip was nothing short of a disappointment picking up only two points from an available nine. After the 2-1 loss to Miami, head coach Gary Smith discussed needing to take a look at how the lineup on the road and at home.

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Rest assured, Nashville will look to come out of the blocks quick against DC United.

Tonight, the Boys in Gold come into the match with the first clean injury report of the season. After a month plus of injuries and international duty, Smith and his staff will have a full array of options at their disposal.

The question is, how will Smith use those options?

Nashville has almost exclusively ran a three center back formation since the beginning of July, but in the second half against Miami Smith returned to a 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 formation, taking off Jack Maher for Alex Muyl. Now that Walker Zimmerman and Alistair Johnston are back and fully fit, I expect to see that four man backline to return.

The move to a back four could allow Nashville to start Aké Loba alongside the Randall Leal and Hany Mukhtar for the first time this season. Loba’s ability and experience to play out on the wing would allow C.J. Sapong to retain his spot as the no. 9 and get an extra attacking threat on the field. Smith has preferred to use a two way winger like Alex Muyl on the wing, but Loba has shown he is not afraid to work back on the defensive side of the ball.

At the back is where the clean injury report will most be felt. Dave Romney has been the lone consistent player in Nashville’s defense and continues to show he is one of the most underrated defenders in the league. Romney will be back alongside Walker Zimmerman which should see Nashville decrease the number of opportunities from set pieces, while Alistair Johnston will be a threat on both sides of the ball on the right.

With a full strength team, Nashville absolutely has to get three points at home.

DC United

This year has been a season of transition for DC United and their fans. The team split ways with long time coach Ben Olsen and replaced him with Hernán Losada. The Argentine manger was relatively unknown but in a short amount of time has been able to transform the way DC United plays.

DC comes into the match against Nashville having won their last two matches and being undefeated in five matches. They havent been great on the road but did recently beat Columbus 2-4. They have the ability to hand Nashville their first loss at home.

Losada primarily uses a three or five man backline that will press high up the pitch and look to hit teams on the counter. He has invested a lot of time and energy making DC United one of the fitter teams in the league. Further up the field, DC have the ability to play with a two man forward line, as well as the option of playing one striker with two attacking players behind.

Unlike Nashville, DC are in the midst of an injury crisis and missing several key players such as Donovan Pines and Bill Hamid. However, we’ve seen several young players like Moses Nyeman and Kevin Paredes step up and play key roles in this team, and both look set for moves to Europe in the near future, as well as larger roles for the U.S. national team.

Julian Gressel especially has been a major part of DC’s resurgence. The former Atlanta United star moved to DC for a major pay raise, and in his first season he took time to adapt, and never truly looked comfortable in the black and red. In 2021, he’s been one of the best creators in the league, a return to his pre-2020 form. His 2.14 goals added lead all fullbacks in the league, and his 5.49 expected assists are second-only to Carles Gil, the MVP frontrunner.

Ola Kamara’s 10 goals are the third-most in MLS, and Gressel finally has a consistent target in the box. The golden boot candidate has brought out the best in Gressel, similar to how he played with Josef Martínez in Atlanta. The combo are absolutely lethel, and Nashville’s left side will have their work cut out to limit their opportunities.

Availability report

Pod Picks

Ben Wright

Score:  Nashville 3-1 DC
Scorers:  Walker Zimmerman, Hany Mukhtar, Aké Loba
MOTM:   Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Loba scores a later winner on a counter attack.

Jonathan Slape

Score:   Nashville 2-0 DC
Scorers: Aké Loba, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM:  Aké Loba
Bold Prediction: Loba starts and gets his first goal for Nashville SC.

Andy Simmons

Score:  Nashville 1-0 DC
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM:  Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction:  Hany scores a penalty for the match-winner

Chris Ivey

Score:   Nashville 2-1 DC
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, C.J. Sapong
MOTM:  Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: DC United’s press gives Nashville fits. They control the game but Nashville picks up the goals to win.

Josh Young

Score:   Nashville 2-1 DC
Scorers: Randall Leal, Aké Loba
MOTM:  Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar, Leal and Sapong all start together, and Aké Loba comes on in the second half and scores a winner.

Fan Forecast

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Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC (5th) vs DC United (6th)
Power Rankings Nashville SC (5) vs DC United (8)
Odds: Nashville (+110), Draw (+220), DC (+240) via BetMGM
Date: Sunday, August 15
Time: 6:00 PM Central, DRV Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV:  MyTV 30 (local), ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 84°/71°. Cloudy. 13% chance of rain. 90% humidity.

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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