Preview: NYCFC vs Nashville SC

Nashville SC head north to face New York City FC this weekend. Just seven weeks after Nashville’s season-opening 2-0 win, the two sides will find each other on opposite sides of the field once again. Can the Coyotes take six points from the Pigeons, or will NYCFC get revenge?

New York City FC

7th (East) | 9 points | 2-3-2 | -1 GD |
Power Rankings: 16

Injuries / Absences: None

New York City have changed somewhat since they played Nashville on February 25. Talles Magno, shoehorned in as a false nine, has been shifted back to his more natural role on the left wing.

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Gabriel Segal, signed on waivers earlier in the season after a spell at FC Köln II, started last week’s 1-1 draw with Atlanta. While maybe not a high-end striker, he’s certainly a more natural fit for the position than Magno, and allows him to play in his preferred spot.

The Pigeons have had a bit of roster turnover since their prior meeting. Thiago Andrade, who started the match in Nashville, was loaned out to Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense for the season. New York brought back Santiago Rodríguez from Montevideo and recalled James Sands from his loan in Scotland, and also signed American Richie Ledezma on loan from PSV. They’ve significantly improved their midfield since February.

As noted by Blue City Radio in our weekly preview podcast, Sands may not be ready to start this week after a minor knock. Otherwise, though, NYCFC should be fully healthy with a full squad available.

They’re not at their traditional home stadium this week, trading Yankee Stadium’s baseball field for Citi Field’s baseball field. It’s a much narrower pitch, officially listed at 110 meters long and 70 meters wide, but likely a bit smaller in reality. That’s how they prefer it, keeping things tight and breaking teams down with the ball. Despite Nashville’s earlier win, they’re an incredibly dangerous side, especially at home.

Nashville SC

5th (East) | 11 points | 3-1-3 | +4 GD |
Power Rankings: 9

Injuries / Absences:

Out: Randall Leal (lower body), Nick DePuy (season-ending injury list)

It’s the same story for Nashville as it has been for weeks. Randall Leal is still out with a re-aggravated hamstring, and he’s been close to returning for weeks. Nick DePuy is the other absence, and he’s out for the season after achilles surgery.

The ‘Yotes are defensively elite, allowing a league-best two goals from seven matches so far. It might not be sustainable, but if they maintain this pace, they’ll finish the season as the best defense in MLS history by a 15-16 goal margin.

Joe Willis has been in spectacular form early in the season, saving 24 of the 26 shots he’s faced and allowing -1.53 G-xG. American Soccer Analysis‘ “Goals Added” metric ranks him as the seventh-best ‘keeper in the league.

Nashville’s real issues have come at the other end of the field. They’ve scored just six goals all season, and they’ve been shut out in half their matches. Hany Mukhtar hasn’t exactly been quiet, scoring once and assisting three, but he also hasn’t found his 2022 MVP levels yet.

Without Mukhtar scoring at an MVP rate, Nashville once again hasn’t had others step up to consistently carry the load for him. CJ Sapong and Teal Bunbury have combined for just a single shot on target, and while Jacob Shaffelburg and Fafà Picault have each scored, it’s not quite the attacking threat Nashville need. They’ll need all of their attackers to be on form against a tricky opponent.

Pod Picks

Andy Simmons

Score: Nashville 1-0 Toronto
Scorers: Aníbal Godoy
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Godoy hits a banger from outside the 18.

Chris Ivey

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.

Ben Wright

Score: NYCFC 0-0 Nashville
MOTM: Joe Willis
Bold Prediction: Willis makes at least seven saves.

Jonathan Slape

Score: NYCFC 1-1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville concede a late equalizer.

Valair Shabilla

Score: NYCFC 0-1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Both teams combine for less than five shots on goal.

Chris Ivey

Score: NYCFC 1-0 Nashville
MOTM: Aníbal Godoy
Bold Prediction: Nashville hits the post twice but can’t score.\

Andy Simmons

Score: NYCFC 0-0 Nashville
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: NYCFC dominates possession.

Fan Forecast

Match info

Teams: New York City FC vs Nashville SC
Date: Saturday, April 15
Time: 6:30 pm CDT, Citi Field, Queens, NY
TV: Apple TV
Radio: 104.5 The Zone (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 68°/57°. Cloudy. 47% chance of rain. 71% humidity

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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