Nashville SC are back in action after their midweek win over Birmingham Legion as they welcome 5th place Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Here's what we're expecting from the match.
Nashville secured their spot in the playoffs on Wednesday night with Charleston Battery losing 3-1 to Atlanta United II. That wasnt the only match that went Nashville's way either as both Tampa Bay and New York also fell to Ottawa and St. Louis. Nashville goes in to the match on Saturday against a Pittsburgh team that sits just 3 points behind Nashville with two games in hand.
The match on Tuesday saw Coach Gary Smith make a few changes that were necessitated by injury with both Lebo Moloto and Cameron Lancaster ruled out along with Daniel Ríos and Derrick Jones still recovering from injury. Smith also rotated his fullback handing the start to both Darnell King and Justin Davis. For the match on Sunday, this is how I see the team lining up.
Head coach Gary Smith continued with the 4-2-3-1 against Birmingham and I expect that to continue against Pittsburgh. With a couple more days of practice and a cameo on Tuesday I expect to see Daniel Ríos make his return to the starting 11 with both Alan Winn and Kharlton Belmar on the wings. The #10 spot is going to come down to the health of Lebo Moloto. In his post match press conference, Coach Smith said he expects to have Moloto available but if not look to see Matt LaGrassa continue in that position
Pittsburgh is much more of an attacking threat than they have been previously under Bob Lilley so I expect to see a robust midfield two of Bolu Akinyode and Matt Lagrassa. However, if Moloto does not start, LaGrassa will move up and Derrick Jones could come in for his first start since May.
Against Birmingham, we saw the return of the Forrest Lasso and Jimmy Ockford center back pairing which continued to be rock solid and should remain consistent for Pittsburgh. I expect to see Kosuke Kimura and Taylor Washington to move back in to the starting 11 after not starting Tuesday.
Will be posted once it is available
Coached by USL stalwart Bob Lilley, Pittsburgh sits 5th in the table just 3 points behind Nashville and two points behind Tampa Bay in 4th. Having played 2 less games, they sit in a prime position to claim that final home playoff spot. They have continued to have a strong defense and have added a few more goals scoring 49 goals led by Nico Brett with 10.
Pittsburgh comes in to this match with Nashville having only loss one of their last 5 which was a uncharacteristic 5-0 loss away to NCFC. During the previous matchup, Pittsburgh was able to capitalize on two late mistakes from Nashville to pick up a 2-2 draw. They will be looking to improve upon that Saturday.
Head coach Bob Lilley, like Coach Smith, has used both a 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 through out the season and will look to continue with the 4-2-3-1 which has brought success in the past few matches. This should allow him to clog up the midfield and hopefully deny service to Daniel Ríos.
Neco Brett will lead the line with Steevan Dos Santos sitting behind him in the #10 position. Nashville will need to keep an eye on both Kenardo Forbes and, form NSC player, Ryan James as Pittsburgh creates a large amount of chances from their deep lying playmaker and RB. At the back, Jonathan Greenspan and Tobi Adewole will be tasked with keeping the Nashville forwards quiet.
Score: Nashville 2 - 1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Ropapa Mensah
MOTM: Daniel Rios
Bold Prediction: Neither side takes more than 12 total shots.
Score: Nashville 1 - 0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Scorers: Daniel Ríos
MOTM: Matt Pickens
Bold Prediction: Pickens records at least 5 saves
Score: Nashville 2 - 0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Scorers: Daniel Ríos (x2)
MOTM: Daniel Ríos
Bold Prediction: Derrick Jones makes his return to the field as a sub and provides the assist for the second goal
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Date: Sunday, 09/21/19
Time: 7:00 PM, First Tennessee Park, Nashville Tennessee
Radio: 94.9 The Game 2 (English), 86.7 El Jefe (Spanish)
Forecast: 91°/67°. Sunny. 0% chance of rain. 39% humidity.