By Jonathan Slape (@jslapessp), co-host & staff writer.
BRADENTON, FL - Nashville SC play the third match of their 2020 preseason camp today, taking on former USL rival Louisville City. After falling 3-1 to the Chicago Fire, Nashville will get a chance to face a familiar opponent and an on-loan Cameron Lancaster.
As always, it's tough to predict a preseason lineup, especially with questions about the fitness. Daniel Ríos, David Accam and Miguel Nazarit all saw the field in the match against Chicago, while Jimmy Medranda was again left out due to minor injury.
After two matches, Coach Gary Smith seems to beginning to get an idea of his first choice eleven baring a few injuries. Will we see a similar lineup to what we have seen against Elfsborg and Chicago?
The back 5 for Nashville has remained unchanged for the past two matches and we are expecting that to continue today against Louisville. It is important that these players continue to build understanding and chemistry between each other but there is potential for someone like Brayan Beckeles to get a look out at RB.
The storyline of the preseason is, of course, who is going to score the goals. Hany Muhktar provided an assist to Randall Leal for Nashville's loan goal against Chicago, but we have yet to see production from the striker position. Daniel Ríos made his first appearance of the preseason on Thursday and has a good chance of getting a look with "group one", as Gary Smith labelled it.
LOUISVILLE CITY FC
While most of Nashville's players may not be familiar with this Louisville City side, Gary Smith and his coaching staff will be ready for what Coach John Hackworth and his team have prepared. Louisville are coming off a 1-0 loss to DC United on Thursday and Nashville will look to improve upon that.
Louisville returns most of their key players from 2019 with the exception of two key additions. Former Nashville SC defender Jimmy Ockford and on loan forward Cameron Lancaster have both made moves to the Coopers, and will provide the USL Eastern Conference semifinalists with an even bigger edge.
We expect to see Coach Hackworth put out an unchanged lineup from their match against DC United but we will see Lancaster at some point in the match. Louisville was able to keep DC scoreless until they made wholesale changes in the second half. Are they able to do the same to this Nashville team?
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Who will start up top for Nashville. Abu Danladi has started the past two matches up top but with Daniel Ríos healthy, does he get the start?
Clean Sheet. After keeping Elfsborg scoreless in their first match, Nashville gave up 3 goals against Chicago. Louisville has one of the better offenses in the USL and will provide a stern test for this defense. Will Nashville bounce back with another clean sheet today?
Goals Goals Goals? Nashville notched their first goal on Thursday when Randall Leal slotted home a pass from Hany Muhktar. Nashville will look to build upon that and hopefully get the offense going. Look for the Muktar and Leal combinations to continue but who else will get involved.
The match won't be streamed, but stay tuned to @NashvilleSC and @SpeedwaySoc for updates. We will speak with Head Coach Gary Smith and a few players after the match, and will publish their thoughts on the match shortly afterwards.
Date: Sunday 02/09/20
Format: Two 45 minute halves
Time: 3 p.m. CT, IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL
Forecast: 77°/61°. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 58% humidity.