Updated: Aug 21, 2019
Unbeaten in six matches, Nashville SC welcome top of the table New York Red Bulls II to First Tennessee Park in a makeup for the previous match that was abandoned due to weather. Here's what to expect from the match.
Nashville SC are unbeaten in their last six matches, scoring 13 and conceding just one. They've made improvements to their squad since the previous meeting with New York in June, adding Jimmy Ockford and Forrest Lasso to bolster their defense. The arrival of the two defenders has coincided with an improvement defensively, and Nashville will feel confident in their ability to limit the top scoring side in the East.
"I don't think they're ever easy to keep off the scoresheet," said head coach Gary Smith. "They're so positive in the way that they play. In many cases they throw a lot of caution to the wind. They ask an awful lot of the players going forward, and it can leave them vulnerable. In terms of keeping a clean sheet, it's not often I'll say it, but as long as we win the game I don't care how many they score."
As a makeup match, there are certain restrictions on Gary Smith in naming a team. He's only allowed to make three changes to the 18-player squad, and anything extra counts as a substitution. Additionally, he's only allowed to make six changes to the starting lineup.
Jimmy Ockford and Forrest Lasso weren't on the team, and Ken Tribbett was injured, so the trio should replaced Vinnie Vermeer, Liam Doyle and Michael Reed in the squad. Otherwise, I expect to see a very similar team to the side we saw in Charlotte. "[In terms of fitness], this game's not a problem," said Smith. "It'll be after this." Either one of Ken Tribbett or Matt LaGrassa could start in midfield next to Akinyode, and the same could be said at right back between Darnell King and Kosuke Kimura. I imagine that we'll see more rotation on the weekend against Charleston.
New York are in the same position as Nashville in terms of changes to their squad, which may prove to be more difficult for an MLS 2 side that consistently rotates players through their squad.
Tom Barlow started NYRBII's midweek match against Pittsburgh last week, before coming off the bench for the senior side on the weekend. There's a chance he could be included, but it's not likely. Midfielder Marcus Epps started against Nashville in the cancellation, but is now on loan to Memphis. Kyle Zajec has been out the past several weeks with a broken nose, and will likely be replaced by Jean-Christophe Koffi in midfield. Right back Rece Buckmaster has signed with NYRB's senior squad, and could be replaced by Edgardo Rito.
Their gameday squad is always hard to predict, but their style of play is not. They'll push players forward and high press deep in Nashville's half. Their attackers cover a lot of ground defensively, and will work hard to get consistent pressure on the ball. "I think we might have to go maybe a bit direct, playing in behind them to start until the game settles down", said Bolu Akinyode. "Hopefully we can settle in and try to control the game."
Score: Nashville 4 - 2 New York
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Lebo Moloto, Forrest Lasso, Cameron Lancaster
MOTM: Lebo Moloto
Bold Prediction: The two teams combine for more than 40 total shots.
Score: Nashville 3 - 2 New York
Scorer: Daniel Ríos (x2), Ropapa Mensah
MOTM: Kharlton Belmar
Bold Prediction: Belmar picks up two assists and Mensah comes off the bench to bag a late winner.
Score: Nashville 3 - 3 New York
Scorer: Daniel Ríos (x2), Alan Winn
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Both teams take over six shots on goal.
Score: Nashville 2 - 1 New York
Scorer: Daniel Ríos, Alan Winn
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Nashville limits New York in open play, but gives up a set piece goal.
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Date: Wednesday, 08/21/19
Time: 7:00 PM, First Tennessee Park, Nashville TN
Radio: 96.7 El Jefe (Spanish)
Forecast: 95°/73°. Partly cloudy. 20% chance of rain. 58% humidity.