Preview: Swope Park Rangers vs Nashville SC

After an impressive 2-0 win over Indy Eleven last week, Nashville SC travels to Kansas City to take on 17th placed Swope Park Rangers. Here's what we're expecting from the match.

NASHVILLE SC


Currently in fifth place in the East, Nashville could go as high as third with a win against Swope Park. The Boys In Gold dominated the reverse fixture, beating Swope Park 5-1, and with a squad nearing full health, they should have the firepower to get another three points.


Head coach Gary Smith has gone back to a 4-2-3-1 formation in the past two matches, and against a Rangers side that concedes over two goals per match, it seems likely that he'll continue with the more attack-minded system.


Smith has rotated keepers every two matches, and going by that it will be Connor Sparrow's turn in goal. Ahead of him, new signing Forrest Lasso and Jimmy Ockford (whose short-term loan was just extended) are the clear first choice pairing at the back. With seven matches coming up in August, Smith could opt to rotate, but it makes sense to give the new duo minutes to build chemistry. Fullback could see some rotation, with Darnell King coming in to provide more of an attacking threat on the right.


In midfield, Matt LaGrassa was removed from the injury report before the Indy match, but wasn't in the squad. If he's back full fitness, he could start to provide a more attacking option next to Michael Reed. If he's not 100%, Bolu Akinyode is the only other option, with Derrick Jones still recovering from ankle surgery and Vinnie Vermeer back on loan in Las Vegas.


In attack, Alan Winn has been on fire on the left, named to the USL Team of the Week for two consecutive weeks. He looks undroppable at this point, and seems likely to keep his place on the left. Centrally, Lebo Moloto has been key to Nashville's attack, leading the team in assists, and should be able to take advantage of the space in midfield to pull the strings. On the right, Kharlton Belmar got the start against Indy, and had some good moments, although the end product wasn't quite there. There's a chance he could make way for Ropapa Mensah, although he'll want to get a chance to impress against his former team.


Daniel Ríos has been Nashville's most consistent performer this season, second in the Golden Boot race with 13 goals. I expect he'll get the start once again, but with Cameron Lancaster off the injury report, he could get a chance to find some form against a struggling side. Whoever gets the nod up top should have plenty of chances to find the back of the net.


INJURY REPORT


SWOPE PARK RANGERS


After consistently qualifying for the playoffs, Swope Park has struggled this season. Sitting in 17th place in the East, only three sides have conceded more goals. Since their 5-1 loss in Nashville in May, they've won two, drawn four and lost five.

As with any MLS "2" side, it's nearly impossible to predict the matchday squad. There have been a couple regular starters for Swope Park, though, with the 20-year-old Brazilian fullback Alexsander a lock at left back. Midfielder/defender Camden Riley has been a consistent member of the squad, dropping back to a centerback role after playing as the no. 6 earlier in the year.


Ahead of him, box-to-box midfielder Filipe Hernandez has been arguably the team's best performer, leading the Rangers with eight goals (and an impressive 38% conversion rate). The front line has had more of a rotating cast, but striker Wilson Harris has impressed with two goals in limited minutes, and has seen increased playing time in recent weeks. On the right, Jerome Ngom Mbekeli has two goals and two assists on the year, and could cause Nashville problems down their left flank.

PREDICTIONS


Ben Wright

Score: Swope Park 0 - 4 Nashville

Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Kharlton Belmar, Ropapa Mensah, Cameron Lancaster

MOTM: Lebo Moloto

Bold Prediction: Lebo Moloto creates at least five chances for Nashville.


Jonathan Slape

Score: Swope Park 0 - 3 Nashville

Scorer: Daniel Ríos (x2), Cameron Lancaster

MOTM: Daniel Ríos

Bold Prediction: Ríos gives Nashville a two goal lead in the first half before Lancaster scores late to make it three.

John Sloop

Score: Swope Park 0 - 4 Nashville

Scorers: Daniel Ríos, Ropapa Mensah, Kharlton Belmar, Alan Winn

MOTM: Daniel Ríos

Bold Prediction: Nashville scores three in the first half before getting a fourth on the counter after the break.

Andy Simmons

Score: Swope Park 0 - 3 Nashville

Scorer: Daniel Ríos, Alan Winn, Lebo Moloto

MOTM: Lebo Moloto

Bold Prediction: Swope Park doesn't register a shot on target.

Have a prediction for this week's match? Vote in our Fearless Forecast!


MATCH INFO

Date: Saturday, 08/03/19

Time: 7Children's Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

TV:

Stream: ESPN+

Radio:

Forecast: 85°/66°. Partly cloudy. 30% chance of rain. 65% humidity.


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