Preview: Nashville SC v Orlando City SC

Nashville SC bounced back from their loss to Miami with a resounding 5-2 win over DC United. The win moved Nashville to third in the eastern conference and will look to cement their place in the standings as they take on Orlando City. Can Nashville extend their win streak at home? Will Orlando extend their unbeaten streak to four?

Nashville SC

After a disappointing road trip, Nashville returned to Nissan Stadium and put in an impressive performance against an in form DC United team.

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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.

Orlando City

The Lions travel to Music City shorthanded. Six core players are listed on the injury report, while striker Daryl Dike isn’t expected to participate, despite not officially being designated as out. He suffered a shoulder injury at the Gold Cup with the U.S. National Team, and has yet to return to training.

Tesho Akindele has earned the bulk of minutes up front with Dike out, and he’s been effective. He’s tied for second on the team with three goals, adding in four assists in just 1,016 minutes.

Behind Akindele is the big question mark tonight. Both Nani and Mauricio Pereira are listed as questionable with “lower body injuries”, and it remains to be seen if either will play tonight. There’s not a natural option to play as the no. 10 in Oscar Pareja’s system, meaning he could be forced to shift things around to fit USMNT players Benji Michel and Chris Mueller into a front three, along with one of Silvester van der Water, David Loera or Alexander Alvarado.

In midfield, Orlando will also be without Oriol Rosell and Sebastián Méndez, another pair of casualties on the injury report. Andrés Perea has been on the fringes of the U.S. national team, while Júnior Urso is a high level starter. Méndez is a tough loss, though. He leads their midfield in goals added, and has averaged close to 90% passing accuracy.

Orlando are still a dangerous side, even with their significant absences. Fullbacks João Moutinho and Ruan are among the league’s best on either flank, and both came off the bench in their last league match against Cincinnati. They’ll provide plenty of width in the final third, and Ruan is a nightmare to defend when he’s able to isolate defenders in one-on-one situations.

Although their form has dipped in recent weeks, they have the second-best away record in MLS’s Eastern Conference, behind only New England Revolution. They’re a difficult side to play against, and tonight won’t be an simple task for Nashville.

Availability report

Pod Picks

Ben Wright

Score: Nashville 3-0 Orlando
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Dave Romney, Daniel Ríos
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville hold Orlando to <0.67 xG

Jonathan Slape

Score: Nashville 2-0 Orlando
Scorers: Aké Loba, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Loba comes off the bench and gets his first goal for Nashville SC.

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 1-1 Orlando
Scorers: Randall Leal
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Nashville has more shots and shots on target than Orlando

Chris Ivey

Score: Nashville 1-0 Orlando
Scorers: Walker Zimmerman
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Zimmerman scores the game winner off of a set piece

Josh Young

Score: Nashville 2-2 Orlando
Scorers: Randall Leal, Daniel Lovitz
MOTM: Randall Leal
Bold Prediction: Ríos gets more minutes; registers multiple shots on target

Lucas Panzica

Score: Nashville 3-2 Orlando
Scorers: C.J. Sapong, Hany Muhktar, Aké Loba
MOTM:  Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Mukhtar scores another free kick

Fan Forecast

Kit matchup

Match Info

Teams: Nashville SC (3rd) vs Orlando City SC (4th)
Power Rankings Nashville SC (5) vs Orlando City SC (12)
Odds: Nashville (-115), Draw (+250), Orlando (+290) via BetMGM
Date: Wednesday, August 18
Time: 7:30 PM Central, 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: 89°/72°. Sunny. 70% chance of rain. 88% 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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