Last week, Nashville went on the road and picked up a much-needed 2-0 win against Orlando City. Today, the ‘Yotes return home to GEODIS Park to take on Toronto FC as they look to bounce back from their loss at home to FC Cincinnati in what is sure to be an emotional game. This will be the first home game since the horrific shooting at Covenant School. The Backline is planning a six-minute-moment of silence and is urging the rest of the stadium to join in.
5th (East) | 10 points | 3-1-2 | +4 GD |
Power Rankings: 7
Injuries / Absences:
Out: Randall Leal (lower body), Nick DePuy (season-ending injury list)
After two straight defeats, Nashville SC responded with a 2-0 win on the road to break the losing streak and score their first goals away from home including Hany Mukhtar’s first goal of the season.
While Mukhtar may only have one goal on the season, he has been just as productive in the attack. So far this season, he has three assists alongside a single goal. However, Mukhtar is not getting the number of shots on target that he did last year. Through six games, Mukhtar has just four shots on target which is way off his last season’s average of 1.96 shots on target per game.
Tonight’s game against Toronto should provide the opportunity for Mukhtar to get plenty of chances.
Against Orlando, Gary Smith kept with similar personnel we have seen through the start of the season except for one exception. Luke Haakenson was given his first start of the season out on the right. We’ve seen on the road that Smith likes to use a more defensive winger in front of Moore, but that has typically been Alex Muyl in place of Fafà Picault.
Against Toronto, I expect to see Smith revert to type at home and start Jacob Shaffelburg on the left and move Picault back to the right-hand side. Shaffelburg and Picault not only offer Nashville the best options in transition, but Shaffelburg will be looking forward to playing against his former team.
In the middle of the pitch, Aníbal Godoy and Sean Davis have been the preferred pairing. Davis ability to maintain and recycle possession pairs very well with Godoy’s ability to carry the ball and play the forward pass in transition.
Tonight, Smith may choose to mix it up a little bit by starting Ján Greguš beside Godoy. Greguš is excellent in dead-ball situations and could really provide Nashville with a height advantage on defensive set pieces. Having two midfielders that can both defend and transition quickly would allow Nashville to carve the porous TFC backline apart.
In the defense, expect to see the usual backline. Nashville does not have the defensive depth to afford to make changes at the back. The only real depth option is Taylor Washington, but with Federico Bernardeschi on the right for Toronto, Dan Lovitz is the best option from a defensive perspective.
9th (East) | 7 points | 1-4-1 | +1 GD
Power Rankings: 13
Injuries / Absences
OUT: Adama Diomande (lower body), Cristián Gutiérrez (non-covid illness), Lorenzo Insigne (lower body)
Toronto FC still haven’t found their form under Bob Bradley. While their attack is more than functional, their defense continues to hamper them. Through eight games, they’ve scored eight goals, but the seven they’ve allowed leave them with seven points, and only one win.
Injuries have hampered their attack. Federico Bernardeschi has carried a lot of the load, with a team-leading two goals and three assists. But Lorenzo Insigne, their other marquee Designated Player, hobbled off injured just 34 minutes into the season, and has missed their last five matches.
Michael Bradley has improved on his form last season, notching a goal and an assist already so far. With Brandon Servania brought in from FC Dallas to add much-needed midfield depth, as well as Mark-Anthony Kaye healthy and in-form, Toronto finally have some control in the middle of the pitch.
Defense remains their weakness, though. Despite adding MLS veteran and U.S. international Sean Johnson in the offseason, they concede around a goal a game. Matt Hedges was brought in this winter, partnering former Norwegian international Sigurd Rosted, but their backline has still allowed 79 shots in just six matches, the sixth-highest mark in MLS.
Against Nashville SC’s counter attack, Toronto’s defense could struggle.
Score: Nashville 1-0 Toronto
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Godoy hits a banger from outside the 18.
Score: Nashville 2-0 Toronto
Scorers: Jacob Shaffelburg (x2)
MOTM: Jacob Shaffelburg
Bold Prediction: A long-range effort from Bernardeschi is Toronto’s lone shot on frame.
Score: Nashville 3-0 Toronto
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2), Ján Greguš
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville doesn’t allow 5 shots on goal.
Score: Nashville 4-1 Toronto
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, Aníbal Godoy, Jacob Shaffelburg, C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Anibal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Sapong scores his first goal since May 2022.
Score: Nashville 2-1 Toronto
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, C.J. Sapong
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Hany with a goal and an assist.
Score: Nashville 3-1 Toronto
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar, C.J. Sapong, Jacob Shaffelburg
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville goes into halftime losing 1-0
Teams: Nashville SC v. Toronto FC
Odds: NSH (-155), Draw (+290), TOR (+380) via BetMGM
Date: Saturday, April 8
Time: 7:30 pm CDT, GEODIS Park, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 57°/45°. Cloudy. 20% chance of rain. 67% humidity