On Saturday, The MLS released their plan to resume the regular season in home markets at the conclusion of the MLS is Back tournament. Prior to the resumption, Nashville SC will face FC Dallas twice to make up matches they missed in the MLS is Back tournament.
Nashville and Dallas were removed from the tournament after multiple positive Covid-19 tests. Dallas had 10 and Nashville had 9 which forced the league to withdraw each team from the tournament. Since then, there have been no positive tests inside the MLS bubble and the tournament has proceeded according to plans.
Each MLS team played 3 matches in the tournament which counted toward their regular season record. Since Nashville and Dallas did not have those matches, they will face each other 3 times throughout the resumed season and twice before the rest of the MLS resumes. The first match is on Wednesday, August 12th the second is on Sunday, August 16th, and the third will take place in Nashville sometime in the Fall. Believe it or not, Dallas plans to have fans in attendance for the two matches though that may change.
Head Coach, Gary Smith, described Nashville’s withdrawal as “a very, very deflating time,”. Despite this, Nashville is ready to return even after not playing a match since March 8th.
Nashville has fought much adversity since their inaugural match on February 29th. Just 2 days after their first match, tornadoes swept through Nashville and a week later, the season was postponed due to Covid-19.
Through all this adversity, the players just want to play. When asked about Nashville’s return to play, Midfielder Aníbal Godoy said “It’s exciting. Everybody’s excited. This is our job, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to come to training and enjoy every training.”
It is hard to make a comparison between Nashville and Dallas, simply because Nashville has played 2 matches in club history. Dallas was undefeated in their first two matches, beating the Philidelphia Union and tying the Montreal Impact. Dallas played a good game against a strong opponent in Philidelphia. However, these games took place 150 days ago.
Through 2 matches, Nashville fell to Atlanta and Portland, despite dominating in shots. After an early defensive mistake against Atlanta, Nashville was unable to fully recover despite recording the first goal in club history in the 28th minute. Against Portland, they outplayed them throughout and hit the post multiple times. Through 2 games, Nashville showcased their strong midfield and were ultimately defeated because they could not put away scoring chances.
After a 5 month in match play Nashville SC may line up a bit differently. Below is my lineup prediction vs Dallas:
The lineup is the same as the first two matches besides Ríos at Striker. Dominique Badji started the first two matches at striker but he a non-factor in both. It seemed that Head Coach, Gary Smith, planned to start Ríos in the third match of the season. Another possibility is a change at Right Back. While Eric Miller played just 2 games, he made a couple costly errors that cost Nashville 2 goals.
It is hard to make a prediction when neither team has played in 5 months and they have never faced eachother. However, I think Nashville will come out strong. Nashville will be ready to play and chemistry will be even stronger then before.
I truly believe Nashville has the talent to compete in nearly every match and they can show that against Dallas. After the double header against Dallas, Nashville is slated to play Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami twice over the next month. In the MLS’s plan, they announced their will be about 18 more regular season games and 18 of the 26 teams will make the playoffs. The MLS Cup is planned to take place in December but all plans are subject to change given Covid-19 related uncertainties.
8/11/20: Nashville SC has acquired 23 year old Right Mid, Alex Muyl, from F.C. Dallas. Nashville is reportedly trading 2 international roster slots in exchange from Muyl. Muyl scored 3 goals and recorded 3 assists in 17 appearances last season.