Preview: Nashville SC vs Memphis 901 FC

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

After a 3-0 win in Ottawa, the Boys In Gold return to Nashville to take on USL newcomers Memphis 901 FC. What should we expect from tomorrow's match?


Nashville scored as many goals in Ottawa as they had in their previous three matches. Gary Smith opted to utilize a two striker formation from the start, giving Tucker Hume his first start of the season next to Nashville SC leading scorer Daniel Ríos. Hume's start was somewhat forced by injury, with Cameron Lancaster missing out with a hamstring injury, but the move paid off as the team's three goals came from the two forwards.

Predicted Nashville XI

I don't expect to see Smith make too many changes to the squad after such a dominant result, but I do expect a couple.

Connor Sparrow has started the past two matches, both on the road, and performed really well. He hasn't done anything to warrant dropping. Neither had Matt Pickens before he was dropped, and their numbers with two games each are incredibly similar.

We've talked a bit about how Sparrow has the potential to take the starting job, and his two consecutive starts definitely don't hurt that narrative. I think that a start for Sparrow against Memphis is a good sign he's Nashville's first choice keeper.

Nashville's backline has remained almost completely unchanged. Kimura, Tribbett, and Doyle have played every minute. At left back, Washington started the first two matches, with Davis getting the nod in the last two. Washington is a much more attack-minded option, and I think he'll get the start at home against a mid-table side.

Bolu Akinyode missed the Ottawa match due to visa issues, and it may be hard for him to fight back into the XI. Michael Reed is the captain and a clear favorite of Gary Smith, so it's hard to see him being dropped. Matt LaGrassa has been one of the teams best performers so far, and has played all but two minutes thus far. They can both get involved in the attack more than Akinyode, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them get the start again.

Lebo Moloto and Kharlton Belmar both played really well in Ottawa, and with a full week's rest, it's hard to see either being dropped. Alan Winn and Ropapa Mensah will most likely have to work off the bench.

Cameron Lancaster missed the match in Ottawa due to injury, and it remains to be seen if he's fully healthy (check for an update after Nashville SC release their injury report). Hume put in a fantastic performance last week, and doesn't deserve to be dropped. It wouldn't shock me if he gets the start. But on the other hand, Cameron Lancaster has had a slow start to the season, and the club will want to get him in good form as soon as possible. If he's healthy, I expect he'll get the start in hopes that he can build chemistry with Ríos, but this is the hardest one for me to pick.


OUT: Vinnie Vermeer (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE: Cameron Lancaster (hamstring)


Memphis haven't had an incredible start to their inaugural USL season, but they haven't been terrible either. They've played six matches (the most in the eastern conference) and sit in 12th place with five points.

I had them listed at 10th in my Week 5 Power Rankings, but after they lost at home to Atlanta United 2 in the USL Game of the Week on Wednesday, they'll drop in next week's edition.

They've had some good results, including a 1-1 draw with North Carolina FC and a narrow loss away to NYRB II, but they've struggled to score goals and have a 9% conversion rate. In their midweek match against Atlanta, they took 19 shots but couldn't score. Part of this was due to a great performance by Atlanta keeper Dylan Castanheira, but Memphis's finishing was really poor.

Predicted Memphis XI

Memphis uses a pretty flexible system that shifts from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2. Adam Najem has been their most dangerous player so far, with 9 chances created. He has a somewhat free role in the team, playing mostly underneath the striker, but pushing out right and letting Elliot Collier drift centrally at times. Fullbacks Tristian Hoge and Wesley Charpie push forward, and Charpie's delivery from the right can cause problems for opposing defenses.


  1. Does the 4-4-2 stay? Ríos is basically a lock to start at this point. Will Gary Smith continue using the 4-4-2 we saw in Ottawa and partner him with Hume or Lancaster, or will he opt for a different system?

  2. Who starts in goal for Nashville? Will Sparrow continue to get the nod, or will Pickens be preferred at home?

  3. Can Nashville continue to produce? Last Saturday's match was by far the best Nashville has looked going forward, despite only having 35% possession. Smith typically tries to control possession at home - how will this change Nashville's tactics and their effectiveness in the final third?


Ben Wright:

Score: Nashville SC 3 - 0 Memphis 901 FC

Goals: Daniel Ríos, Kharlton Belmar, Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Kharlton Belmar

Bold Prediction: Nashville finish with more shots on target than Memphis have total shots.

Andy Simmons:

Score: Nashville SC 2 - 0 Memphis 901 FC

Goals: Daniel Ríos, Kharlton Belmar

MOTM: Daniel Ríos

Bold Prediction: Nashville dominates possession at home in the 60% range.

John Sloop:

Score: Nashville SC 3 - 0 Memphis 901 FC

Goals: Daniel Ríos (x2), Liam Doyle

MOTM: Daniel Ríos

Bold Prediction: Daniel Ríos gets his first goal in the opening 15 minutes.

Jonathan Slape:

Score: Nashville SC 3 - 0 Memphis 901 FC

Goals: Daniel Ríos, Kharlton Belmar, Ken Tribbett

MOTM: Kharlton Belmar

Bold Prediction: Connor Sparrow puts in another strong performance and cements his role as Nashville's starting keeper.

Davey Shepherd:

Score: Nashville SC 2 - 0 Memphis 901 FC

Goals: Daniel Ríos, Kharlton Belmar

MOTM: Kharlton Belmar

Bold Prediction: Belmar's hot start pays off and he registers a goal and an assist.

Have a prediction for the match? Vote in our Fearless Forecast and reply with your predictions.


Date: Saturday, 04/13/19

Time: 7pm CST

Place: First Tennessee Park, Nashville, Tennessee

TV: MyTV30

Stream: ESPN+

Radio: 94.9 Game 2 and 96.7 El Jefe (Español)

Forecast: 70°/63°. Scattered thunderstorms. 80% chance of rain.

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