Recovered from Tuesday yet?
After their thrilling stoppage time winner over Louisville City, Nashville SC welcome North Carolina FC to Nissan Stadium for their penultimate game of the season. Here is what we are expecting to see from the match.
With their win on Tuesday, Nashville moved back in to second place, just 1 point behind Eastern Conference leaders, Pittsburgh Riverhounds. While Nashville has both of their remaining games at home, Pittsburgh is on the road against playoff hopefuls Saint Louis FC and Birmingham Legion. A win tonight guarantees a home playoff match but Nashville needs to secure all 3 points tonight if they want to remain in the race for the number 1 seed.
Nashville is back on the big stage tonight as they take on North Carolina at Nissan Stadium for the final time before MLS. NSC defender, Forrest Lasso, talked about what that means for the player saying, " It’s special. Obviously, this venue has a big importance for this club. So far this year, we’ve been successful at Nissan. The fans enjoy it; the community and the city enjoy it. I can speak for all of us, we love it as well. It’s something to get excited for."
On Tuesday, Smith continued with his 3-4-1-2 formation and with Ken Tribbett still listed as questionable, I would expect to see him continue with that. He has several players that are rounding themselves into form and this formation allows him to get the majority of those players on to the field together.
Daniel Ríos had a tough time against Louisville including a chance in the second half he was unable to finish. He still has an outside shot of the Golden boot and a couple goals tonigh will keep him in the mix. Ropapa Mensah continues to impress with his speed and ability to beat a man and will prove to be a handful for the North Carolina defense. Lebo Moloto will slot in behind Mensah and Ríos to create chances for them.
Derrick Jones played his most significant minutes since his injury coming on as a substitute in the second half. In the post match press conference Smith said,"Tonight, you're looking at 25 minutes. Expect that output to improve as we move towards these latter games of our schedule. His performance anyway looks like he's getting back to where he was."
With that said, I think we finally see Jones get his first start since May 29th next to Matt LaGrassa. They both will be tasked with the challenge of keeping Ben Speas quiet in NCFC's midfield.
Justin Davis continues to be in a fantastic run of form playing arguably his best soccer in a Nashville SC jersey. He will lineup in a back three next to Forrest Lasso and Jimmy Ockford who will look to recreate their magic from Tuesday. The three of them will be supported by Taylor Washington and Darnell King at the wing back spots.
INTERVIEW- Coach Smith, Justin Davis and Daniel Ríos
North Carolina FC
Nashville last played North Carolina FC on June 29th at WakeMed Soccer Park where they lost 1-0 to a first half Ben Speas goal. The game came at a time, where Nashville was struggling with defensive issues and will come in to the match tonight with a completely different back three.
North Carolina have clinched their spot in the playoffs and currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference, 1 point behind Louisville City FC. A win against Nashville, could go a long way to helping North Carolina avoid the play in round. In their last 5 matches, they have gone 2-2-1, winning their last two over New York Red Bulls II and Ottawa Fury.
When describing what to expect from North Carolina Gary Smith said, "Dave Sarachan has got them very well-organized, they’ve got a wonderful method about them, they’ve got some nice footballers in the group and a lot of their mantra is around possession of the ball and what that brings for them and the shape of the team whilst doing that." Coach Sarachan heavily favors the 4-1-4-1 and I expect him to utilize that formation tonight at Nissan.
The game does provide a bit of a selection headache for Coach Sarachan with several of his players unavailable through international duty. Nazmi Albadawi, Dre Fortune, Manny Perez, and Yamakani Chester are all away with their national teams. It will be interesting to see what Sarachan does in the middle of the park with the absence of bot Fortune and Albadawi.
Up front Ulrich Ewlo left the game last weekend with an injury but if he is fit, I expect to see him in the starting 11. Typically, Steven Miller and Ben Speas play on the flank but I expect to see Speas to move in to the middle and partner with Austin Da Luz to replace Fortune and Albadawi. On the left, Austin Panchot will slot in.
Graham Smith will look to provide protection in front of the backline and look to help recycle possession. While, there will be several changes in the midfield, the defense will look to remain unchanged from their past 3 games. The question will be, can they keep former teammate Daniel Ríos quiet for the second time?
Score: Nashville 3 - 0 North Carolina FC
Scorers: Ropapa Mensah, Daniel Ríos, Matt LaGrassa
MOTM: Ropapa Mensah
Bold Prediction: Nashville registers 20 shots
Score: Nashville 2 - 0 North Carolina FC
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Lebo Moloto
MOTM: Forrest Lasso
Bold Prediction: Forrest Lasso has a couple of key clearances and tackles in order to preserve the shutout.
Score: Nashville 3 - 0 North Carolina FC
Scorers: Daniel Ríos (x2), Ropapa Mensah
MOTM: Justin Davis
Bold Prediction: Justin Davis provides two assists and earns a team of the week nomination
Score: Nashville 2 - 1 North Carolina FC
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Ropapa Mensah
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: All goals are scored in the first half
Score: Nashville 3 - 1 North Carolina FC
Scorers: Daniel Ríos (x2), Alan Winn
Bold Prediction: Nashville goes up 3-0 in the first half
Have a prediction for this week's match? Vote in our Fearless Forecast!
Date: Tuesday, 10/12/19
Time: 7:00 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville Tennessee
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English), 86.7 El Jefe (Spanish)
Forecast: 64°/39°. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 45% humidity.