Preview: Nashville SC vs CF Montréal

Nashville SC are back in action tomorrow night, taking on CF Montréal at Geodis Park. The Boys In Gold continue to struggle this season, entering the match in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference with just one win from their first nine matches. Can Nashville finally put together a complete performance, or will Montréal become the sixth away team to get a result at Geodis Park in 2024?

Head-to-head

Meetings: 7
Nashville SC wins: 4
Draws: 2
CF Montréal wins: 1

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CF Montréal

10th (East) | 12 points | 3W-3D-3L | -4 GD |
Last match: 0-0 draw at Columbus Crew
Power Rankings: 21st
Most goals: Matías Cóccaro (3), Ariel Lassiter (2)
Most assists: Mathieu Choinière (3), Josef Martínez (3)

Availability report

OUT: Matías Cóccaro (knee), Grayson Doody (ankle), Dominic Iankov (hamstring), Josef Martínez (knee), Mahala Opoku (ankle), Nathan Saliba (hip), Joaquin Sosa (calf)

After another trip through the coaching carousel last season, Montréal brought in former Columbus Crew 2 manager Laurent Courtois as their head coach. As expected, the former West Ham and LA Galaxy midfielder bears plenty of similarities to Wilfried Nancy, implementing a possession-focused style that heavily values the ball and looks to hold the ball and tire their opponents with possession, rather than Nashville’s preference for ceding possession and defending deep.

Unlike Nancy’s Columbus, though, they’re much more pragmatic and direct. Sure, they possess the ball, but it’s less patient than Columbus. When they gain possession they like to go to goal much more quickly, and while they press at times, they’re not above dropping their lines and hitting on the counter.

Montréal have had plenty of injuries to contend with. Matías Cóccaro and Josef Martínez, their first-choice strike partnership, are out with similar knee injuries that will keep the pair sidelined for up to two months. Lassi Lappalainen, Joaquin Sosa, and Mahala Opoku all have been absent with various injuries, and Courtois has had to get fairly creative with his selection as a result.

Mathieu Choinière and Samuel Piette have settled as the go-to midfield duo, keeping former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama (the only Designated Player on the roster) in a very minimal role off the bench.

Montréal are used to playing on the road. Starting their season with a six-match road trip while Stade Saputo underwent renovations, they’ve gone 2W-2D -3L on the road this season, and are more than capable of getting a result at Geodis Park. If they can figure out their frontline and continue to get replacement-level production from Lassiter and Toye, they’ll cause Nashville problems, as plenty of teams have already this season.

Nashville SC

14th (East) | 8 points | 1W-5D-3L | -7 GD |
Last match: 0-0 draw at Columbus Crew
Power Rankings: 27th
Most goals: Hany Mukhtar (2), Sam Surridge (2), Teal Bunbury (2)
Most assists: Jacob Shaffelburg (3), Hany Mukhtar (2)

Availability report

OUT: Randall Leal (hip), Lukas MacNaughton (hip)
QUESTIONABLE: Tyler Boyd (hip), Shaq Moore (hip), Walker Zimmerman (knee)

Nashville SC need a win. Badly. Maybe fully committing to the dark side will help – they’ll don the Man In Black kits for the first time at Geodis Park on Saturday. Hopefully this isn’t a precursor to continuing their Anakin-esque decline.

This isn’t ground-breaking analysis. They’ve won just one game all season, a less-than-inspiring 2-1 win over a poor Charlotte FC side in which they were outplayed for most of the second half. While they’ve had a few decent performances, most notably away in their 3-1 loss to Inter Miami, the season has been mostly lows. Last week’s 1-1 draw with San Jose Earthquakes, the first time the Quakes had taken points from any road match all season, was the low point.

Nashville simply can’t continue performances like that. While Saturday isn’t technically a must-win match, it’s the closest they’ll get to a must-win match in May.

Gary Smith seemed to be lobbying for his job after last weekend’s match, and while he may not be in imminent danger with the horrific injury luck he’s had so far this season, the pressure is certainly mounting, no matter how much he may brush it off.

Walker Zimmerman’s return should help organize the backline, which has been prone to more individual mistakes than at any point in their MLS history so far. Tyler Boyd will likewise fix some of the issues they’ve had connecting midfield to defense.

Will two players be enough to fix a struggling team? Even a win on Saturday won’t definitively answer if Nashville’s issues are solved, but a loss will certainly add more fuel to the fire.

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 2-2 Montréal
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: Nashville concede an equalizer after the 80th minute.

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1-0 Montréal
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Zimmerman’s full return solidifies a defense that concedes just 0.50 xG in the first shutout win of the season.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Nashville 0-0 Montréal
Scorers:
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Surridge has less than 15 touches and Montréal doesn’t take a shot on target.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: Nashville 2-1 Montréal
Scorers: Sam Surridge, Alex Muyl
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: The match looks incredibly similar to the 2-2 draw with Columbus, but Montréal don’t have the top-end talent to complete the comeback.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Nashville 1-1 Montréal
Scorers: Sam Surridge
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: Things play out almost exactly like the San Jose draw.

Fan forecast

Pre-match quotes

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC vs CF Montréal
Referees: Rosendo Mendoza (Ref), Kevin Klinger (AR1), Matthew Nelson (AR2), Matthre Corrigan (4th), Michael Radchuk (VAR), Jonathan Johnson (AVAR)
Odds: NSH (-130), Draw (+270), MTL (+330)
Date: Saturday, May 4, 2024
Time: 7:30 pm CDT, Geodis Park, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (FREE)
TV Commentary: Nate Bukaty and Devon Kerr (English), Sergio Ruiz and Walter Roque (Spanish), Frederic Lord, Vincent Destouches (French)
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Radio Commentary: Lucas Panzica and Will Boling
Forecast: 80°/64°. 73º at kickoff. Cloudy. 45% chance of rain. 84% humidity. 3-7 mph wind.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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