May the 4th be with you. The majority of match week 9 fall on the unofficial holiday of Star Wars, and while Nashville SC will be facing off against Atlanta United II on their Star Wars Night, there are plenty of other notable match ups across the league. Charleston vs Pittsburgh could prove to be interesting as NSC's most recent opponents face off, but there are a few I am a bit more interested in.
Hartford Athletic v Charlotte Independence
When: May 4th at 6:00pm Central
Where: Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field
Previous Results: HFD 4-1 loss at NCFC; CLT 1-1 draw vs Tampa
Winless Hartford on a must watch list? Really?
I am a sucker for home openers for new expansion teams and this is no different. After 8 straight games on the road, Hartford Athletic welcome Charlotte Independence to historic Rentschler Field. Charlotte has struggled this season and find themselves sitting in 16th place, while Hartford sit in dead last, failing to register a single point thus far. Even though Charlotte managed to take a point off Tampa last weekend, I do not see them turning things around against Hartford. It won't be a pretty game, but I see Hartford hanging on to get their first point of the season.
Prediction: HFD 0 - 0 CLT
Memphis 901 FC v Birmingham Legion FC
When: May 4th at 3:00pm Central
Where: AutoZone Park
Previous Results: MEM 2-1 loss at Louisville; BHM 5-0 loss at NYRBII
The midweek was not kind to Birmingham. They have started off the season fairly well and find themselves just one point behind Nashville. However, the midweek game against top-of-the-East NYRBII was not pretty as the Legion shipped 5 goals against a potent Red Bull team. The midweek was a bit more kind to Memphis, who lost 2-1 in Louisville to extended their losing streak to 4 games.
Both teams have struggled to score goals, but think that Birmingham have a bit more quality at the front and like to think that Chandler Hoffman will finally pick up the scoring by bagging a brace in this game.
Prediction: MEM 1 - 2 BHM
Indy Eleven v North Carolina FC
When: May 4th at 6:00pm Central
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
Previous Results: IND 0-0 draw against Tampa; NC 4-1 win against Hartford
This match up is probably the one most Nashville SC fans will be keeping up with during the match against Atlanta. NCFC is currently on a 2 match win streak after big wins over both Charlotte and Hartford, while Indy is looking for a win after a loss against NY and draw vs Tampa.
This is going to be a tight back and forth affair. Both teams have strong defenses, but I see the battle coming down to NCFC forward Marios Lomis and Indy Eleven goalie Evan Newton. Both are having good seasons, and it will all come down to which player wins out.
Prediction: IND 1 - 2 NCFC
Orange County SC v Phoenix Rising
When: May 4th at 9:00pm Central
Where: Championship Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park
Previous Results: OC 2-2 draw at Fresno; PHX 0-0 draw at Sacramento
In a rematch of the Western Conference Finals, Phoenix travel down to Orange County in what is sure to be a high flying affair. It has been a bit of a disappointing start to the season, with both sitting outside the playoff spots. Both teams find themselves towards the top of the goals scored chart and Risings' Zac Lubin finds himself just 1 clean sheet behind Tampa's John McCarthy. I'm giving a slight advantage to Phoenix's offense.
Prediction: OC 2 - 3 PHX