Match previews

Match preview: Nashville SC vs. Philadelphia Union

Photo: Stephen Speer

Who: Philadelphia Union (2022: 5-2-1, 17 points, 1st place in the East) vs.Nashville SC (3-2-3, 11 points, 8th place in the West)

What: 2022 MLS Regular Season (Week 9).  

Where: GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN

When: Sunday, May 1 at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: ESPN

Whistle: Referee: Chris Penso, Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Mike Rottersman. 4th Official: Tori Penso, VAR: Kevin Terry

Calm down everyone! 

Yes, the Union dropped some points the past couple of weeks, but the table on the wall tells me they are still solidly in first place in the East – so let’s not panic. 

With those pesky Canadians out of everyone’s hair for a while (76ers too), the Union can focus on the next opponent, Nashville SC.  The Union head down to debut shiny new GEODIS Park for a Sunday afternoon match. Kickoff for this nationally televised game is 4:00 p.m..

The two teams met on three occasions last season.  The two regular season matches both ended with the home team prevailing by a 1-0 score.  The big game of course was the conference semi-final with the Union advancing in a shootout thanks to goalkeeper Andre Blake’s PK heroics. 

Scouting Report: Nashville SC

After a very successful second year in MLS, Nashville has started this season looking mediocre at best, in part because they played their first eight games on the road.

That all changes on Sunday as they cut the ribbon on their new 30,000 seat stadium.  With the national anthem being played by violinist Jason Fitzs and the opening guitar riff by Tommy Shaw (of Styx for you millenials) the capacity crowd is sure to be raucous. It’s worth noting that Reese Witherspoon recently became part of the Nashville SC owners group – so remember, you are not only rooting against Nashville but also against Elle Woods.

Nashville have not changed ways between seasons.  They still play solid defense (especially at home, presumably) anchored by perennial all-star and USMNT centerback Walker Zimmerman .  Zimmerman is flanked by defenders Jack Maher and David Romney and also helped with excellent goalkeeping by Joe Willis. One knock against Nashville’s defense is their propensity to give up set piece goals – they are currently last in the league in that statistic.

Nashville is built like, and acts like a counter-attacking team, but doesn’t play like one.  They can be timid going forward sending limited numbers upfield hoping their MVP caliber, attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar can make some magic happen. Mukhtar is a creative force both with the ball at his feet and in picking out passes to his teammates – in particular former Union striker and poacher extraordinaire, C.J. Sapong.

It will be interesting to see if Nashville opens things up this match.  Parking the bus is not the best way to keep a big opening day crowd enthralled.

Injury report:  T. Dunberry (S); I. Donasiyano (M); R. Castellanos (D)

Suspended:  None

Scouting report: Union

This past week, all the talk in the Unionverse centered around the seeming lack of offensive punch.  This is not entirely without merit.  Over the past 4 games, the Union have scored just 5 goals and of those, 2 were egregious keeper errors and one was a questionable penalty kick.  

It’s not that the Union aren’t creating opportunities.  They have a 1.25 expected goal average which is good for 12th in the league. It’s the finishing that continues to be the problem.  

They will need some finishing improvement on Sunday.  Mikael Uhre who was brought in for this purpose has yet to score a goal despite some promising opportunities.  His attacking mates Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza have shown promise but have yet to fully gel.  Sergio Santos, nursing a hamstring, will likely be available – if we see him it will be late as his skill set of running behind the defenders will not be overly relevant on Sunday.

One area we might see some immediate change is in the midfield.  Leon Flach has been a revelation in his defense and work rate but his offensive skills need refining.  With Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan spending much of the spring on the bench it might be time to give one of the kids a start.

Injury Report:  Questionable: Sergio Santos 

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup:  Union Defense vs Nashville FC Defense

Two defense-first teams square off.  Will be interesting to see who makes the first, or only, mistake.

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre 

Still waiting on him to break through.  We know the talent is there – just need to break the seal.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1-0 Nashville FC

A low scoring affair. Uhre scores on a corner.

Moneyline: 

Philadelphia Union:    +250

Nashville, FC:             +138

Draw:                           +215

Draw your own conclusions

 

3 Comments

  1. Looking forward to this game. We know our defense is good, but hoping we can show an attack that can bite, early and often. We have the skill. Just need to doop it.

  2. Honestly going to be tough to get points on a new stadium inaugural. Nashville will be up for it. Also feel like Union have a hard time playing other teams that aren’t up for having the ball either. Looking forward to watching it all tomorrow.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Unlikely that the kids (Aaronson, McGlynn, and Sullivan) start tomorrow or play more than 30 minutes. All 3 played almost 60 minutes for the Union II today before coming off the field together and heading straight to the locker room to catch a plane to Nashville.

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