Preview: Nashville SC vs LAFC

After a disappointing 2-1 loss to NYCFC, Nashville SC is back at GEODIS Park to begin a three-match home stand in the league. They welcome defending champions, LAFC, to Nashville who is still undefeated to start the season. Can the ‘Yotes end LAFC’s undefeated streak? Will the Black & Gold continue their red-hot form?

Nashville SC

6th (East) | 11 points | 3-2-3 | +3 GD |
Power Rankings: 12

Injuries / Absences:

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

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After two straight results, Nashville went on the road to NYCFC and suffered their third defeat of the season. After giving up two goals early in the first half (double their previous season total), Nashville fought back to cut the lead in half late in the game but was unable to find the equalizer.

The game was headlined by some key defensive mistakes leading to both of NYCFC’s goals. If Nashville wants any chance of a result against this LAFC team, they are going to have to be disciplined and cut out those mistakes.

For the first time this season, Gary Smith is going to have to have to consider squad rotation and midweek matches when selecting the squad. While not a Nashville SC match, Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore were away last week with the National team and while Moore didn’t play, Zimmerman put in 90 minutes. Along side that, the ‘Yotes have an Open Cup match against San Antonio on Wednesday.

The Open Cup should be full of squad rotation but no doubt, there will be players asked to play both matches.

The big question for Nashville is what to do in the attack. Hany Mukhtar netted another goal against New York but neither of the two starting strikers have managed to get on the scoresheet. In fact, Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong have amassed only two shots on target combined this season.

Sapong has been Smith’s preferred option when healthy and I don’t expect that to change against LA but the fact he hasn’t scored in 329 days is quite concerning.

Outside of the decision at the nine, I expect the lineup to be pretty straight forward. Shaffelburg should slot back in for Muyl on the wings opposite of Fafà Picault. The two wingers will have to play at the top of their game in order to transition quickly against this LA defense. If they can catch LAFC with their wingers pushed up the field they could find the opportunity they need.

Los Angeles FC

2nd (West) | 17 points | 5-2-0 | +10 GD |
Power Rankings: 1

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Maxime Crepeau (leg)

The defending MLS Cup Champions head back to Nashville as they look to continue their impressive start in the league.

Coming into the season, they managed to keep the majority of their team intact while only really losing Gareth Bale. While a massive name, Bale didn’t made the impact that many thought he would.

One of the most impressive things about this LAFC team is there ability on both sides of the ball. Currently they have fifteen goals through their first seven matches and have only conceded five goals, one more than Nashville. If they are able to string it all together, it could be a long night for Nashville.

Cherundolo continues to grow as a coach and has been excellent at managing fixture congestion. As impressive as LA’s record is, they have done it while also advancing to the semi finals of the Concacaf Champions League.

Like Nashville, LAFC had two players called for the USMNT match against Mexico, with both Kellyn Acosta and Aaron Long starting the match. The difference for LA is that both players have already seen a heavy load to start the campaign. Luckily, Los Angeles has the squad depth to contend with the demand.

The midfield is the main unknown for the match as LAFC has a derth of options in the central midfield positions. Ilie is almost certain to start at the six and will be the defensive shield in front of the backline. In front of him, Timothy Tillman and Jose Cifuentes will play further up as eights. They’ll look to press when needed and make late runs into the box.

If Los Angeles can control the center of the pitch, they will to overload certain sides of the pitch and look to exploit space on the swith.

Pod Picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 2-1 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Jacob Shaffelburg
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar converts a late penalty

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1-1 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: A penalty is awarded

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 1-1 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville scores after the 75th minute and more shots than LAFC

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 1-1 Los Angeles
Scorers: Fafa Picault
MOTM: Anibal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Nashville concedes a late equalizer.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Nashville 2-2 Los Angeles
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville Equalizer comes after the 86th minute

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Los Angeles FC
Odds: NSH (+155), Draw (+230), LAFC (+160) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, April 22
Time: 7:30 pm CDT, GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 68°/39°. Mostly Sunny. 10% chance of rain. 43% 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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