By Jonathan Slape (@JSlapeSSP), staff writer.
Nashville SC take the field in Bradenton, Florida for their first preseason match against IF Elfsborg.
After a week and a half of training, Nashville SC face their first preseason match of the season. The match will differ from a traditional game, made up of three 30 minute sessions with lineup changes during each session rather than two 45 minute halves.
Predicting a preseason lineup, especially the first one, is a tough ask. Instead, we're putting out the lineup we would choose today. Nashville will be without Randall Leal who is away on international duty but aside from him, everyone else should be available.
In several interviews throughout the offseason, Coach Gary Smith has talked about utilizing the 4-2-3-1, a formation that he used extensively last season in the USL. I think it is safe to think that we see Smith start off with that. These games are going to be both about building chemistry and seeing where guys fit within the depth chart, rather than trying anything tactically revolutionary.
At forward, Daniel Ríos has a strong case to be the number one option. He posted two consecutive seasons of 20+ goals in USL, and should get even better service with this team. With the three periods, I would expect Ríos, Badji and even Danladi to get some time at forward position.
In the attacking midfield positions, Hany Muhktar will probably start in the no. 10 position, but the wing positions are a bit harder to predict. David Accam will most certainly play out on one of the wings, but with Leal away on international duty, there is no clear option on the opposite side. Dominique Badji and Abu Danladi are probably the two main candidates with even the potential to see Alan Winn there.
In the holding midfield and defensive positions, I think it's pretty clear who the team sees as their starters. Dax McCarty and Aníbal Godoy will sit in front of the defense and look to help facilitate the front 4. I expect Daniel Lovitz and Brayan Beckeles to start in the left and right full back positions with Dave Romney and Jalil Anibaba as the two center backs.
Keep an eye on where Jimmy Medranda plays. Is he an option at left back, or does the technical staff think he's a better fit in midfield?
At goalkeeper, Joe Willis is almost guaranteed the starting position to start the season, but don't sleep on Adrian Zendejas, who Nashville traded $175k in xAM to SKC to acquire. Zendejas will probably split time with Willis today.
The match today will not be streamed, but we will follow up with a recap of the game and quotes from Coach Gary Smith later this evening. While you wait, vote for your preferred starting lineup here.
Date: Thursday 1/30/2020
Time: 2 p.m. CT, IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL
Forecast: 71°/59°. Rain. 0% chance of rain. 87% humidity.