Nashville SC are back in action at Geodis Park. The ‘Yotes find themselves in the midst of their worst stretch of form since the very beginning of their time in MLS, needing points against a dangerous Seattle Sounders side.
Seattle Sounders FC FC
Current standing: 8th (West) | 8-2-8 | +4 GD
Power Ranking: 13th
OUT: João Paulo (right ACL tear), Raúl Ruidíaz (hamstring strain), Obed Vargas (lower back stress fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: Xavier Arreaga (hamstring strain)
After becoming the first MLS side to win the Concacaf Champions League in the modern iteration of the tournament, the Sounders quickly bounced back from their CCL hangover to climb the table. They’ve lost just twice in their last seven games, pushing up the table, where they’re tied on points with Nashville.
After their CCL campaign, the Sounders have dealt with significant injuries. 2021 MVP candidate João Paulo tore his ACL in the CCL final. His replacement, 16-year-old phenom Obed Vargas, suffered a fracture in his lower back. Star striker Raúl Ruidíaz injured his hamstring in a 3-0 loss against Portland last weekend and is unavailable, and key center back Xavier Arreaga is questionable.
Seattle have one of the deepest rosters in MLS, and have been able to cope more than adequately.
“For a long time I didn’t think Brian Schmetzer rotated players enough,” said Sounder At Heart‘s Dave Clark in our Zoomed N interview. “Then he spent every year demonstrating that his squads get hot late, make the playoffs, win two MLS Cups, a CCL. He’s got the rotation thing down. As long as the only major injuries are to João Paulo and Obed Vargas the club will host a home playoff match again, and win it, because that’s become the norm.”
Seattle still have plenty of options all over the field. Will Bruin is back after missing the last couple games in the health and safety protocols, and Fredy Montero has filled in admirably for Ruidíaz, scoring twice in just over 800 minutes.
Jordan Morris has returned to form after missing essentially all of 2021 with a torn ACL, and with Cristian Roldan on the opposite flank, the pair of USMNT World Cup hopefuls have accounted for eight goals and five assists between them.
This Seattle side is good, the model franchise for sustained success in MLS. And with their penchant for getting hot in the second half of the season, it’s a dangerous time to play the Sounders.
Current standing: 7th (West) | 7-6-6 | 0 GD
Power Ranking: 8th
OUT: Robert Castellanos (ankle surgery), Aníbal Godoy (thigh)
Nashville were beaten 4-1 by expansion side Charlotte FC on Saturday, their worst-ever margin of defeat in five years under Gary Smith. While the result was historically bad, it was worse than the performance. The ‘Yotes created several good chances, and had Hany Mukhtar’s shot gone in instead of clattering the bar before halftime, it could have been an entirely different story.
Teal Bunbury played the entire second half against Charlotte, and came close to scoring a handful of times. He was able to make key runs behind the backline and provide an outlet in possession. It will be interesting to see how he’s used going forward, especially as he seems to be ahead of Aké Loba on the depth chart.
With Aníbal Godoy still working back from injury, Nashville’s options in midfield are limited. Brian Anunga has been impressive this season, but a poor first half against Charlotte may keep him out against Seattle.
Goalkeeper continues to be a question mark. Elliot Panicco and Joe Willis continue to make equally poor mistakes mixed in with impressive saves. Neither has made a clear case to be the unquestioned number one option, but rotating ‘keepers isn’t really sustainable. At some point, Smith needs to pick one and stick with it.
Score: Nashville 2-0 Seattle
Scores: Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville outshoot Seattle.
Score: Nashville 2-1 Seattle
Scorers: Alex Muyl, Teal Bunbury
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville concede early but come back to win.
Score: Nashville 1-1 Seattle
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Dax McCarty
Bold Prediction: McCarty wins MOTM for spraying passes, but the attack fails to really convert into opportunities. Morris scores for Seattle on a blistering counter.
Teams: Nashville SC vs Charlotte FC
Odds: Nashville (-110), Draw (+230), Seattle (+290) via BetMGM
Date: Wednesday, July 13
Time: 7:30 pm CST, Geodis Park, Nashville, Tennessee
Radio: iHeartRadio Online (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 85°/66°. Partly cloudy. 0% chance of rain. 59% humidity