PREVIEW: Sporting Kansas City vs Nashville SC

On Tuesday night, Nashville played Minnesota United to a disappointing 0-0 draw. After five days off, the Boys in Gold travel up to Kansas City to face off against Sporting KC. How will Nashville set up against Sporting? Will Jhonder Cádiz get his first taste of MLS action?


Nashville SC

Last Saturday’s scoreless draw against New England felt like a high stakes, do or die event that left fans and the team buoyed with confidence after going up against an inform opponent. Tuesday’s match was a different feel all together. Nashville created several chance late on in the second half but were unable to secure a winning goal. The result definitely felt like a bit of a half measure.

Going into tonight’s match, the number one story is the availability of Jhonder Cádiz. After 32 days, Nashville fans could get their first chance to see Cádiz line up for the Boys in Gold. Talking about Cádiz, head coach Gary Smith said, “Jhonder’s been part of the group. He looks in a good place. Very pleased to have him around the group: he’s been, I think a lift and an inspiration for the other guys to see on the grounds and working. He’s available for us. That’s all I’ll say at this point. He’s available for selection at the weekend.”

The addition of Cádiz could not have come at a better time. David Accam, Dom Badji, and Daniel Ríos are all still yet to be medically cleared for participation. This leaves just Abu Danladi and Cádiz as the two available strikers. After playing Derrick Jones as the main forward for two matches, the additional firepower will be appreciated.

Against Minnesota United, Gary Smith continued utilizing the 4-3-2-1/4-3-3 hybrid that he used against the Revolution due to the lack of fully fit strikers. Going into tonight’s match, Abu Danladi should be back to full match fitness along with Jhonder Cádiz being available for selection. I expect to see Smith return to his favored 4-2-3-1.

Abu Danladi has had an additional five days to get up to match fitness and should slot in for Derrick Jones up top and bring an extra layer of speed. Jones did an excellent job holding up the ball but needed more offensive players around him to give him passing options in the final third. Jones could drop to the bench, but I would not be surprised to see him start in a more natural role, possibly in the 10. Hany Mukhtar missed Tuesday’s match, but it was purely squad rotation, and Smith said he should be back in the lineup tonight. If Jones is on the bench expect to see him line up behind Danladi. Out wide, Randall Leal should start out on the left. Leal is the one forward player who has not seen any rotation, so if Smith wants to keep Jones in the lineup, Leal could be relegated to the bench. On the right, Alex Muyl will come and continue to provide a goal threat, as well as the ability to press high up and win the ball back.

In the two holding midfield spots, Brian Anunga should continue to start while Aníbal Godoy is out. He’ll likely be paired with Dax McCarty, the ever-present engine of the team. The two of them will need to break up Kansas City attacks and transition the ball forward quickly.

At this point, the defense is the defense. Don’t expect to see Smith make any changes barring injury or suspension. Daniel Lovitz and Alistair Johnston will be crucial not only to Nashville’s defensive success but in facilitating the offense.


Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City is will be one of the tougher opponents that Nashville faces, but also one that NSC may be most familiar with. General Manager Mike Jacobs served as Peter Vermes’ assistant Technical Director from 2015 to 2017 and helped build parts of this current team. Sitting 3rd place in the Western Conference, Nashville will have a tough time with this Sporting KC team.

Peter Vermes heavily favors a 4-3-3 system that will press high up the field and create opportunities through winning the ball back quickly. Vermes relies on his midfielders to be the catalyst for the pressing actions and then to play the ball out wide to their wingers.

Going in to tonight’s match, SKC will be with out their star forward, Alan Pulido, who is away on international break but Gadi Kinda will slot in along with Khiry Shelton and Johnny Russell on the wings. Russel is Sporting’s top goal scorer with 6 goals in 15 matches along with two assists. Nashville’s midfield will need to block passing lanes to denny Russell service.

At the back, Sporting KC will be without Graham Zusi, who has played the second most minutes of anyone on the team. Though nominally a defender, Zusi pushes high and plays a major role in the creativity of this team. Without him, Jaylin Lindsey should slot in. Lindsey is a talented youth prospect, but lack of experience could allow Nashville to target the right hand side.


INJURY REPORT

Nashville SC

OUT (NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED): David Accam, Dom Badji, Aníbal Godoy, Daniel Ríos, Jimmy Medranda, Ken Tribbett

Sporting Kansas City

OUT (NOT MEDICALLY CLEARED): Graham Zusi, Felipe Gutiérrez
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Alan Pulido


POD PICKS

Ben Wright

Score: Sporting KC 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Alex Muyl
MOTM: Alex Muyl
Bold Prediction: It’s tied 1-1 until late in the second half, when SKC get a late winner.

Andy Simmons

Score: Sporting KC 1 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Derrick Jones
MOTM: Dave Romney
Bold Prediction: Both goals come in the second half

Jonathan Slape

Score: Sporting KC 1 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Randall Leal, Jhonder Cádiz
MOTM: Alex Muyl
Bold Prediction: Muyl provides both assists including a substitute winner for Cádiz


Have a prediction for this week’s match? Vote in our Fan Forecast.


MATCH INFO


Teams: Nashville SC (10th place, 4-6-5) vs Sporting KC (3th place, 8-2-5)
Date: Sunday, October 11th
Time: 6:30 PM Central, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
TV: MyTV30, ESPN+ (out of market)
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English); El Jefe 96.7 (Spanish)
Forecast: 84°/54°. Sunny. 3% chance of rain. 85% humidity.


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