Preview: Nashville SC vs New York City FC

With one loss in their last seven matches, things seem to be heading in the right direction for the Boys in Gold under interim manager Rumba Munthali. On Saturday they’ll face one of the hottest teams in MLS this season, New York City FC.

Head-to-head

New York City FC

4th (East) | 29 points | 9W-2D-7L | +4 GD |
Last match: 2-0 loss at LA Galaxy
Power Rankings: 5th

Availability Report

OUT: None
QUESTIONABLE: None

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NYCFC have had an interesting season thus far. After a poor start with one win in their first seven matches, manager Nick Cushing was on one of the hottest seats in MLS. Following that, they won eight of their following nine matches. 

Cushing kept his job, they climbed higher in the table and they have one of the better and younger squads in MLS. However, their last two matches have not followed the same trajectory. Two losses to the Columbus Crew at home and the LA Galaxy away, have brought back some doubts about this team.

There’s no shame in losing to two of the best MLS teams, especially considering NYCFC were a man down against Columbus and they had to travel to California in the midweek. That said, there’s clearly something stopping this team from becoming truly elite.

The talent is undeniable, but the two biggest question marks from the beginning of the season remain the same. A young squad that lacks more experienced players and three strikers who can’t seem to find any consistent form.

NYCFC have multiple dangerous players who can punish any defenders caught lacking. At the top of that list is attacking midfielder, Santiago Rodríguez. Since joining NYCFC in 2021, Rodríguez has struggled to find consistency, but this season has showcased his true quality. The Uruguayan leads his team in goals (seven) and assists (six), he is one of the most dynamic players in MLS and is a constant danger. 

The midfield duo of James Sands and Keaton Parks have come into their own this season providing much needed coverage and connecting the play. While new signing, winger, Hannes Wolf has seven goal contributions already in his first season with the Pigeons.

Malachi Jones, who was drafted by NYCFC eighth overall in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft from Lipscomb University, has already played over 400 minutes and contributed with a goal and two assists. Jones’ younger brother, Isaiah, became Nashville’s first ever homegrown signing to feature in a game day squad on Wednesday.

Nashville SC

8th (East) | 23 points | 5W-8D-5L | -1 GD |
Last match: 2-1 win at Toronto FC
Power Rankings: 19th

Availability Report

OUT: Julian Gaines (ankle), Aníbal Godoy (lower body), Randall Leal (hip), Lukas MacNaughton (ankle)
INTERNATIONAL: Shaq Moore (United States), Jacob Shaffelburg (Canada)

Rumba Munthali continues to impress in his time in Nashville. While things aren’t perfect by any stretch, he has been able to stabilize Nashville’s performances and results. Two wins, three draws and a single loss are good numbers for an interim manager.

As we discussed in the Toronto preview, Rumba’s biggest accomplishment thus far is retrieving Nashville’s defensive acumen. Even with missing Shaq Moore due to international duty, Nashville’s backline seems a lot more organized. Munthali has depended on veterans Jack Maher, Walker Zimmerman and Dan Lovitz heavily, which makes the transition to Josh Bauer at right back easier.

In midfield Nashville continue to struggle, especially without Anibal Godoy, but there are some positives from the likes of Dru Yearwood and Sean Davis. With a solid defense and a somewhat firing attack, Nashville can still get results without heavily relying on their midfielders.

Nashville are also linked with Australian midfielder, Patrick Yazbek. Though the earliest any new signing can join will be July 18, when the MLS secondary transfer window opens. 

Though inconsistent, Nashville have found some bright moments in attack. Sam Surridge is coming off of a brace away from home in Toronto. His two goals were assisted by Hany Mukhtar and Tyler Boyd, which for Nashville, those assists are as important as the goals.

For Nashville to fully realize its attacking potential, those three need to be firing on all cylinders. This period is especially important for Boyd, with him being healthy and Jacob Shaffelburg on international duty, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet. After a somewhat disappointing start to the season, he would be looking to solidify himself in the starting lineup.

Nashville other attackers like Teal Bunbury, Alex Muyl and even Forster Ajago will also see an increase in minutes. If they want to have an impact on Nashville’s season, this will probably be their best chance.

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1-1 NYCFC
Scorers: Mukhtar
MOTM: Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville goes down early. Struggles hard, but steals one back via a PK

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 2-0 NYCFC
Scorers: Mukhtar, Ajago
MOTM: Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Forster Ajago comes off the bench for his debut MLS goal.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Nashville 1-1 NYCFC
Scorers: Surridge
MOTM: Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Ajago starts at striker with Surridge on the wing.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Nashville 0-1 NYCFC
Scorers:
MOTM: Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Nashville will struggle to create much on the ball even with having most of the possession, NYCFC will punish them.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: Nashville 2-1 NYCFC
Scorers: Surridge, Zimmerman
MOTM: Surridge
Bold prediction: Nashville is the team to finally catch Matt Freese on an off day.

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. New York City FC
Odds: NSC (+120), NYC (+210), Draw (+230) via DraftKings
Date: Saturday, June 21
Time: 7:30 pm CDT, Geodis Park, Nashville, TN
TV: MLS Season Pass – Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Forecast: A few clouds. Low 73F. Winds light and variable.

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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