Preview: New York Red Bulls vs Nashville SC

After a two-week international break, Nashville SC are back in action, traveling to New Jersey to take on the New York Red Bulls. With an extended period of time under interim manager Rumba Munthali, can the Coyotes bounce back from a home loss to New England last time out?

Match info

Teams: New York Red Bulls vs Nashville SC
Referees: Guido Gonzales Jr. (Ref), Adam Garner (AR1), Tyler Wyrostek (AR2), Elvis Osmanovic (Fourth), Daniel Radford (VAR), Jozef Batko (AVAR)
Odds: RBNY (-135), Draw (+260), NSH (+340)
Date: Saturday, June 15, 2024
Time: 6:30 pm CT, Red Bulls Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Commentary: Nate Bukaty & Devon Kerr (English), Pablo Ramírez & Jesús Bracamontes
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Radio Commentary: Will Boling & Eddie Carvacho
Forecast: 82°/64°. 77º at kickoff. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 61% humidity. 2-11 mph wind.

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Head to head

New York Red Bulls

4th (East) | 29 points | 8W-5D-4L | +6 GD |
Last match: 1-0 loss vs New England Revolution
Power Rankings6th
Goal leaders: Lewis Morgan (9), Emil Forsberg (6)
Assist leaders: Dante Vanzier (7), Lewis Morgan (4)

Availability Report

Questionable: Ronald Donkor (hip), Andres Reyes (foot)
Out: Roald Mitchell (knee), Serge Ngoma (knee), Peter Stroud (ankle)
International duty: Carlos Coronel (Paraguay), Lewis Morgan (Scotland)

This Red Bulls team is drastically different from previous iterations. They still press, sure (only Minnesota and Colorado make more sprints towards the ball when out of possession), but first-year manager Sandro Schwarz has added quality with the ball. They have the seventh-best passing score in MLS, per American Soccer Analysis‘s “goals added” model.

A lot of this comes down to personnel. DP winger Emil Forsberg has been worth every penny, scoring six goals already and giving them plenty of incisiveness in the final third. He’s made a huge difference to their ability to break teams down with the ball, and the team as a whole has been able to step back in possession, slow things down, and methodically find openings in the opposing defense.

Like a lot of teams around the league, they’re missing players. Lewis Morgan (who came incredibly close to joining Nashville SC in the offseason) is at the Euros with Scotland, depriving the Red Bulls of one of the most in-form attackers in MLS. Starting goalkeeper Carlos Coronel is also missing, preparing for Copa América with Paraguay.

Morgan in particular is a big loss. Dante Vanzier picked up a bunch of assists earlier in the year, but recently he’s looked rather lost in the final third and has been in the box a lot without making much of an impact. They’re still a very dangerous team, but they look a little less daunting without Morgan.

Nashville SC

9th (East) | 19 points | 4W-7D-5L | -2 GD |
Last match: 2-1 loss vs New England Revolution
Power Rankings19th
Goal leaders: Sam Surridge (5), Hany Mukhtar (4)
Assist leaders: Hany Mukhtar (6), Dru Yearwood (4)

Availability Report

Out: Randall Leal (hip), Lukas MacNaughton (ankle)
International duty: Aníbal Godoy (Panama), Shaq Moore (United States), Jacob Shaffelburg

Nashville have gotten better with the ball under interim manager Rumba Munthali. Despite the scoreline in their 2-1 loss to New England, they were by far the better side in the run of play and just lacked the finishing touch to turn chances into goals. Of course, that’s a significant issue in and of itself, and one that has plagued them throughout the season.

Losing three key players in Aníbal Godoy, Shaq Moore and Jacob Shaffelburg to international duty will hurt them. Godoy especially has been the most important midfielder in a group that has struggled to consistently progress the ball, and there isn’t an obvious replacement. Amar Sejdić impressed against New England and is probably the most technical of Nashville’s midfielders, but it seems like a stretch to give him his second start in a Nashville shirt on the road in New Jersey.

One other aspect to keep an eye on is Forster Ajago. The 22-year-old striker has been red hot whenever healthy, scoring a brace in his lone appearance with the first team and notching five goals in just over 500 minutes with Huntsville City in MLS NEXT Pro. He’s the most in-form attacker in the organization, and Nashville used their lone international roster slot to activate him on the senior roster. Does he get a look?

Pre-match quotes

Pod picks

Ben Wright

Score: New York 1 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Forster Ajago
MOTM: Forster Ajago
Prediction: John Tolkin defies gravity with a long-range strike, but Forster Ajago comes on for a late equalizer.

Chris Ivey

Score: New York 1 – 0 Nashville
Prediction: A snoozer in which Tolkin provides a touch of magic from long distance to separate the sides.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: New York 0 – 0 Nashville
Prediction: NYRB dominate but a lack of Morgan and Forsberg leaves them toothless and it’s a 0-0 snoozer.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: New York 1 – 0 Nashville
MOTM: Joe Willis
Prediction: Nashville just matches up super poorly against the Red Bulls for whatever reason, and that trend continues.

Valair Shabilla

Score: New York 1 – 0 Nashville
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Prediction: Exactly the same game as earlier in the season but Red Bulls find the net this time.

Fan forecast

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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