Preview. Nashville (a).
When? Wednesday September 3 at 5.30 p.m. PT, 8.30 p.m. ET and 1.30 a.m. (4/9) GMT.
Where? Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN.
How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+, MLS Live on DAZN, Fox 35 Plus and MyTV30 for residents of the United States and Canada. As of yet the game is not currently being broadcast in the United Kingdom. Streams can be found via the Bet 365 and Paddy Power betting sites, follow all terms and conditions of those sites when accessing their feeds. The game is also available via radio locally (check local listings).
I have to preface this review by saying how bizarre this all is. Having only just faced the expansion side, Orlando find themselves clashing with Nashville for the second time in a week. It's another road trip for Oscar Pareja's Lions, following on from their heroic win over the Plastics. Orlando will take a lot of confidence from their successive 3-1 wins. We seem to be good at that, don't we? Winning 3-1. Stephen Hawking once said: 'There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at.' That something appears to be winning games 3-1. Not a bad position to be in, to be fair.
Make no mistake, though, this will be another tough game. Nashville are better than their form suggests. Even the most ardent Orlando City supporter will admit the visitors could, and probably should, have scored more than one at Exploria Stadium last week. Gary Smith's team have found goals hard to come by so far, with the team not scoring more than 1 goal in a game all season. Their lack of prowess in front of goal has been costly, thus far. And it's not as though they don't create chances, either. Their only 2 victories have come by the odd goal, against Dallas and Fort Lauderdale. The first goal could be crucial.
Anyway, without further ado let's dive straight in.
I think it's fair to say we all know what kind of team Nashville are. They give you chances, and we saw that last week. It was a recurring theme throughout their match with Fort Lauderdale as well. The Miami pretenders were able to get 19 shots off during Nashville's win. Of those 19 shots, 5 were on frame, 4 were missed and 10 were blocked. If you study the graph in figure 1, you'll see that 6 of their blocked attempts were in the Nashville penalty area. In fact, Beckham FC had 14 attempts within the 18-yard box. Similarly, we ourselves, had
14 of 17 shots on goal, from within the Nashville penalty area. The point is they will give us chances.
Figure 1 shows that fake Miami took 14 shots at goal from inside the Nashville penalty area.
Something else I noticed whilst reviewing Nashville's most recent win, was a particular midfield dynamic. As I've already alluded to, Nashville rolled with a 4-2-3-1 in this game. They used Tah Anunga and Aníbal Godoy in the 6, sat just in front of the back 4. At least, I think that's where they both should have been. You'll notice from the passing network graphic in figure 2 that Godoy pushed up quite a bit against Fort Lauderdale. This left his central defensive midfield partner a bit exposed. If they go for the 4-2-3-1 that is, which could leave space for the likes of Nani and Pereyra. With the interchangeability of the likes of Nani, Pereyra et al there could be an avenue to exploit there.
Figure 2 highlights how much Aníbal Godoy pushed up in midfield, and played as more of an 8.
Nashville are still without Ken Tribbet (calf injury) and Jimmy Medranda (hip injury). Aside from Tribbet and Medranda Nashville have a clean bill of availability and health heading into this game.
As for Orlando City, they continue to be without Dom Dwyer and Matheus Aiás. Oscar Pareja is also sweating on the fitness of João Moutinho. During a news conference, attended by Julia Poe, on Monday (8/31) the Orlando City head coach confirmed that Moutinho's injury wasn't as severe as first feared. The team may well side with Kamal Miller or Kyle Smith, so as not to risk further aggravation of the injury. Especially given Orlando's current schedule.
Possible starting XI
This could be a complete shot in the dark. Nashville have alternated between the 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1, and they have altered personnel to cope with the schedule. As has much of the rest of the league, I hasten to add. In their win over Fort Lauderdale, the Tennessee based club reverted to a 4-2-3-1. So Gary Smith may want to stick with a winning formula, particularly given how much joy Orlando had against their 4-4-2. Playing with 2 holding midfielders might seem quite appealing to Smith.
During last week's review I plumbed for David Accam. However the former Columbus forward seems to have played his way out of contention. He was an unused substitute during the win over Fort Lauderdale. Randal Leal, however, has seemingly established his place in the starting XI for Gary Smith's team.
The Costa Rican international has started every game, so far, for Nashville. Whilst he has yet to score a goal, or register an assist, his direct style has caused problems for opposing defences. The former Saprissa player has hit 19 shots, with 8 being on target. You get the feeling his first goal isn't a million miles off. Equally adept playing in the number 10 role, as he is on the left, he could be a danger to Orlando during this game.
Nashville come into this game off of a 1-0 home victory against Fort Lauderdale at the weekend, which lifted them to 2-4-1 on the season overall and 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. Orlando, meanwhile, recorded their landmark maiden win over Atlanta United. The win over the Plastics lifted City to 4th in the standings, with a 4-2-2 record on the season. Oscar Pareja's team lead the conference in goals scored, and look in fine fettle following back-to-back victories over Nashville and the Plastics.