Nashville SC are back in action on short rest, hoping to rebound from a 2-1 loss to New York Red Bulls II. They'll take on Charleston Battery, currently in 9th place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference. Here's what to expect from the match.
This will be the sixth match for Nashville in 22 days. Head coach Gary Smith has stuck with his first-choice eleven more consistently in recent weeks, but hinted in training ahead of the New York match that we could see some rotation this week. "You go towards the weekend, there will be an assessment of where bodies are at, soreness, hopefully no injuries to worry about on top of what we've got," he said. Smith called Charleston a "stout and difficult side," saying that they are "a side that has had more success against us than any."
In addition to a season ending injury to Michael Reed and a long term injury to Derrick Jones (who's getting close to a return), defender Forrest Lasso will be unavailable after picking up two yellow cards against New York. This likely means Ken Tribbett, who's played in midfield since returning from injury, will drop back to replace Lasso at centerback.
How Smith decides to fill out the rest of his team really depend on individual fitness levels. He doesn't have many options in midfield, with Akinyode and LaGrassa the only two true midfielders available. Taylor Washington has made the left back spot his own, and historically has been able to handle multiple matches in short succession, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Justin Davis give him a rest.
A big question is if Daniel Ríos will get the start. The striker has played in every match so far this season, starting 24 of 25 matches and leading the team in minutes. If Cameron Lancaster is deemed fit enough to play, I expect he'll get the start and play 60-70 minutes before bringing Ríos off the bench.
*To be updated once Nashville SC releases official report
OUT: Michael Reed (M) - ankle, out for season
SUSPENDED: Forrest Lasso (D) - Two yellow cards previous match, single match suspension
Charleston Battery have never lost to Nashville. They've already beaten them twice this season, 3-1 in league play and on penalties in the Open Cup, going along with a pair of 1-1 draws last year. After their last meeting in late May, their form has taken a hit. They've won just three of their last ten matches, and have struggled defensively, currently at a negative three goal difference.
After using a back three towards the start of the season, Charleston have switched to a back four recently, using a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1 in the past few weeks. Veteran Ataullah Guerra has carved out a major role in the attack, with two goals and two assists in just 212 minutes. He's started the last two matches, and will likely keep his spot over Ivan Svantesson. Kotaro Higashi leads the team in assists, and is able to consistently get on the ball in danger areas. He'll be key for Charleston as they try to link play in the final third and break down Nashville's defense.
Charleston have a deep squad, with players like Zeiko Lewis, Arthur Bosua and Ivan Svantesson able to make an impact off the bench. Despite a lower position in the table, they're a dangerous side who have historically matched up really well with Nashville. This promises to be a tight match.
Score: Nashville 3 - 1 Charleston
Scorers: Cameron Lancaster (x2), Ken Tribbett
MOTM: Lebo Moloto
Bold Prediction: Moloto gets a hat trick of assists.
Score: Nashville 2 - 1 Charleston
Scorer: Ropapa Mensah (x2)
MOTM: Ropapa Mensah
Bold Prediction: Charleston records more shots on target and has more possession.
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Date: Saturday, 08/23/19
Time: 7:00 PM, First Tennessee Park, Nashville TN
Radio: 94.9 Game 2 (English), 96.7 El Jefe (Spanish)
Forecast: 85°/69°. Mostly cloudy. 20% chance of rain. 67% humidity.