Match previews / Union

Match preview: Nashville SC vs Philadelphia Union

Photo by Marjorie Elzey

Who: Nashville SC  (3-1-6, 6th in East)  vs Philadelphia Union (5-2-4, 3rd in East)

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

When: Saturday, July 3rd, 8pm

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

Despite Nashville SC joining the eastern conference in MLS in 2020, this will be the first meeting with Philadelphia in their history. Scheduling due to COVID-19 prevented these teams from facing off last year, a rarity in MLS, which should make for an interesting matchup on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium in The Music City.

Scouting Report: Nashville SC

Having no familiarity with an opponent is something that Nashville has grown used to. Joining the league as an expansion side in 2020, almost each match came with a sense of unfamiliarity, ending in a season which saw the side advance to the MLS Cup playoffs. Nashville is also a side that often gives up the lead, but is never out of the match. Out of their 10 games so far, Nashville has fallen behind in 6 but has a record of 1-1-4 in those matches.

No lead is safe against this side, especially when they are at home.

Up front Nashville has a prolific attack with a name familiar to most Philadelphia fans: CJ Sapong. Driving most of the build up for Nashville is Hany Mukhtar, the German arriving last year. So far this season Mukhtar has contributed 3 goals and an assist in just the 7 games he has started in. Another attacker who likes to put the ball into the net for Nashville is Jhonder Cadiz. Cadiz has notched 2 goals and an assist in his 7 starts, but has yet to play a full 90 minutes for his club this season. Philadelphia fans will also recognize a few names in the Nashville midfield, with Dax McCarty in the center and Alex Muyl on the right, both coming over from the New York Red Bulls. Anibal Godoy is also usually in the center with McCarty, but will miss this match due to international duty with Panama.

In the back, Nashville sports 2 longtime MLS veterans in Walker Zimmerman and Daniel Lovitz. Zimmerman has become more versatile and can play as a right back or center back, though center back is his preferred position. Lovitz will feature on the left side of the defense, with Dave Romney also lining up in the center.

Injury Report: Dom Badji – Out, Luke Haakenson – Questionable

Suspension Report: None

Scouting report: Union

Philadelphia will be looking for a tighter defensive showing than their last time out, as the side allowed 3 goals to the Chicago Fire last Saturday. Despite that deluge, Philadelphia has been impressive on the road, collecting a record of 4-0-3 in MLS and Champions League play. The Union have seen their defensive fortress start to fall away from home though: the Boys in Blue didn’t surrender a goal in their first 5 road tests, but have given up 5 goals in their last 2 matches away from home.

The Union defensive effort should be bolstered by the return of defensive midfielder Jose Martinez from Copa America action. Philadelphia will also be hoping that Alejandro Bedoya will be able to play a part, as he returned to training on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how Jim Curtin chooses to lineup his midfield diamond, with the possible return of Martinez and Bedoya, not to mention Daniel Gazdag, young midfielder Leon Flach may find himself relegated to the bench.

Up front the pairing of Kacper Przybylko and Cory Burke should feature after both players notched a goal against Chicago (Przybylko’s was an own goal that he helped create). Serigo Santos should be looking to make an impact after getting a start in Chicago, but seems destined for a second half substitution in this one. Meanwhile, Quinn Sullivan could also be an option off the bench too, with only a goal-of-the-year candidate performance last time out to live up to this time.

Injury Report: Jack De Vries – Out, Anthony Fontana – Out, , Ilsinho – Questionable, Alejandro Bedoya – Probable

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Midfield battle

With the presumed return of Jose Martinez to the Philadelphia midfield, it will be interesting to see if Nashville will look to attack down the middle in their usual style, or try and spread out the Philadelphia midfield. The Union were spread thin in the midfield in Chicago (although missing two starters didn’t help) and it created Philadelphia’s worst road defensive outing of the year. Will a similar style cause the Union the same problems with its starters returning?

Player to Watch: Jose Martinez

Philadelphia has missed their wizard in the middle while he was representing Venezuela at Copa America and, you know, marking Neymar. Martinez should be eager to get back onto the field for his club and look to continue their road unbeaten streak.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1 – 0 Nashville SC

Philadelphia is getting stronger with players returning from international duty, while Nashville loses Godoy to an international call up. It will be a tight defensive game, but Philadelphia’s defensive form returns and allows them to take all 3 points.


Philadelphia = +280
Nashville = +104
Draw = +225



  1. Tim Jones says:

    Selfishly, it is a relief that Leon Flach did not make the USMNT final roster for the Gold Cup.
    Trouble looms however with Alvas Powell making Jamaica’s. In September and October both Powell and Mbaizo might to be called up to Jamaica and Cameroon respectively. If they both are, who plays right back?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Juan Cuadrado is known to be a good emergency RB…


      In all seriousness, I remember hearing something about Martinez having the capability when he first arrived, and seeing how he played RM so well for Venezuela I think he could do it. There’s also the option of Matt Real in absolute emergency. Wonder how Harriel is doing these days.

      • T.Coolguy says:

        Bedoya could also be an emergency option at right back, as long as we can cover for him in midfield.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Martinez will likely be with Venezuela during those windows.

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