The Post Card: Nashville SC midseason mailbag

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Nashville SC mailbag, but with the MLS season halfway over and some technical issues putting the Speedway Soccer podcast on a short pause, it felt like a good time to crowdsource some questions. Let’s dive in.

100%. Leal was arguably Nashville’s best player during their eight-match road stretch, and then he got hurt in just their second home game. He missed seven games, and while Nashville haven’t been bad in those games per se, they haven’t been the same without him.

GamesPoints Per Game
Without Leal in the XI111.64
With Leal in the XI61.33

It’s a small sample size, but Saturday’s win at DC United showed just how important Leal is to Nashville. Getting him back will be absolutely vital.

I definitely think they’ll make some moves this summer. They still have loads of allocation money and five open senior roster spots. Knowing how Nashville have operated in the past, that’s not unintentional. To me it seems like they’ve been saving space and money for the summer window.

Who they bring in is another question entirely. They have been legitimately interested in Shaq Moore for a while, but after his performance for Tenerife this spring they’ll have a lot of competition to bring him in.

Aside from Moore or potentially another name at right back, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them look for depth from within MLS. There will be some solid players available around the league for the right amount of GAM, and Nashville have plenty.

It absolutely was. Walker Zimmerman is one of the best defenders in MLS history, the best defender currently in Concacaf, and the most important player to Nashville not named Hany Mukhtar. We’ve seen how DP signings are often hit or miss around the league, and I think it makes perfect sense to use one of those spots on a player who you know will produce. It removes a lot of uncertainty.

It’s also a smart move since interest in Zimmerman is at an all-time high. He’s said plenty of times that while he’s happy in Nashville, he also still wants to test himself in Europe at some point. He’s set to play a crucial role for the United States at the World Cup and was dominant in qualifying. There will be plenty of interest, and Nashville ensured that he’ll either stay in Nashville, or they’ll be able to command a hefty transfer fee if he leaves. It’s a smart move.

This is the question everyone wants to know. Obviously, it will vary based on matchup, but I think the best XI has mostly picked itself so far.

The 3-4-1-2 has been Nashville’s best look over the last two years, and with Leal back it makes even more sense. He’s so important at connecting Mukhtar and Sapong with the rest of the team, and like I said earlier, getting him back fixes a lot.

Midfield is interesting. Sean Davis has absolutely nailed down one of the two spots. Aníbal Godoy and Dax McCarty have both had

I don’t think Nashville’s best XI necessarily includes Aké Loba right now. He looks like he’s improving, and has had more consistent performances recently. That being said, he hasn’t come close to outplaying Mukhtar, Sapong, or Leal for one of the three attacking spots in the system. I don’t think he’s come close to warranting a formation switch simply to fit him in.

I’d love to see something like this eventually, though. For the vibes.

They’re switching over from the spring grass to the summer grass, and it took longer to take than they expected. It looks bad, but I’ve talked to Gary Smith and some players about it, and they’ve all said that it doesn’t make a difference in how it plays. It’s not a cause for concern, just a reality of living in the South.

Nashville have the fewest points at home in the Western Conference. In all MLS, only Cincinnati and Chicago have fewer.

This is partially because they’ve played just six times at home, the least in MLS. But playing at home certainly hasn’t been the flipped switch that many people (myself included) expected it to be. I think there are two main things to remember with this.

First, Nashville weren’t exactly dominant at home last year. They didn’t lose a match at Nissan Stadium in 2021. That’s an impressive feat and I’m not trying to take away anything from that, but they drew more than they won. Teams were consistently able to come to Nashville and get a result, and the ‘Yotes had to dig themselves out of holes on multiple occasions. That’s not sustainable, and I think 2022 has been somewhat of a continuation of that.

Second, if you break down the results at Geodis Park, they haven’t actually been that bad. As my friend Tim Sullivan of For Club And Country loves to point out, it’s a small sample size.

  • May 1: 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union. This is a totally fine result against one of the league’s best.
  • May 8: 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake. This was an expected win and looks even better in retrospect.
  • May 18: 2-1 win against Montreal. A solid win against a really good team.
  • May 21: 2-2 draw against Atlanta United. Atlanta are a local rival, there was a three hour rain delay, and Nashville actually played really well. Disappointing result, but not super worrying.
  • June 11: 0-0 draw against San Jose. The Quakes aren’t good and Nashville should beat them at home. They also created a ton of chances and could have scored a couple. Frustrating result but the type that happens all around MLS.
  • June 19: 1-2 loss against Sporting KC. To me, this is the first objectively bad result at home. The performance was bad against a bad team, and Nashville thoroughly deserved to lose, even with the late penalty drama.

Out of six matches at home, I think only one performance has been flat out bad. They’ve had disappointing results in the San Jose and Atlanta draws, but the play on the field hasn’t worried me. If those type of performances continue over their remaining 11 home games I think they’ll be in good shape.

For what it’s worth, my colleague Chris Ivey and I predicted the results of each game before the season started, and I ambitiously picked Nashville to finish with 62 points. Through 17 games I had them with 25 points, and they’re ahead of that pace with 26. I don’t think things are nearly as bad as they seemed the last couple weeks.

Yes.

No.

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.

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