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Preview: Chicago Fire vs. Nashville SC - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Chicago Fire and Nashville SC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The Chicago Fire will try to earn their first-ever victory against Nashville SC as they host the Black-and-Gold on Sunday from Soldier Field.

On Wednesday, Chicago fought back from two one-goal deficits, only to lose 3-2 to the New England Revolution, while Nashville crushed Inter Miami 5-1.


Match preview

Chicago Fire head coach Raphael Wicky looks on during the first half against the New York City at Red Bull Arena in August 2020© Reuters

After a long road trip in which they lost five of six games played and were held scoreless in four of those matches, the Fire suffered another setback in the windy city this week, losing for a fourth consecutive time.

The task for Raphael Wicky and his team does not get any easier, facing a Nashville side who are second in the Conference with the second-most goals scored and who are tied with the Colorado Rapids for the fewest conceded.

It has to be frustrating if you are a Fire fan to see this team consistently let points slip through their fingertips, and their last match was a big opportunity for them to win and give themselves a significant psychological boost.

They are not as bad as their record currently indicates, but failing to do the little things seems to set them back while also making some sloppy defensive gaffes.

With 10 shots on goal versus the Revs, they showed that they can move the ball well and create some quality scoring opportunities, but their final shot has let them down.

There are only eight games left in the regular season for them, with 12 points currently separating Chicago from the Philadelphia Union and a postseason berth, so they have a massive hill to climb if they want to play some more football beyond November 7.

Nashville SC midfielder Hany Mukhtar reacts after scoring a goal on May 29, 2021© Reuters

After a rare defeat last Saturday, Nashville took out their frustrations on the Herons this week, smashing five goals past them and earning their 11th win of the year.

Despite having only 45% of the possession against Miami, Gary Smith's side were in command early, scoring after only six minutes and rarely looked in danger.

Nashville are a very good road side, with only three defeats so far this year, and if they want to maintain their second-place standing, they will need to keep that focus and precision in front of goal with three of their next four fixtures away from home.

The Black-and-Gold have not lost a game this season in which they have scored first as they are quickly becoming one of the top contenders to win the MLS Cup in only their second year in existence.

It is hard to find a lot wrong with the way this team have been playing lately, but if there is an Achilles heel, it could be that they tend to take it easy versus weaker opponents, with their three defeats coming against non-playoff sides (Toronto FC, Inter Miami and the New York Red Bulls).

Consistency has played a big part in their success in 2021, as Nashville have never lost consecutive matches this year, nor have they ever followed up a win with a defeat.

Chicago Fire Major League Soccer form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Nashville SC Major League Soccer form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W



Team News

Chicago Fire midfielder Luka Stojanovic reacts after scoring a goal against Inter Miami on May 22, 2021© Reuters

Carlos Teran scored his first of the season for Chicago in their loss to the Revs, while Gaston Gimenez added a goal and an assist.

There were four changes made to the starting 11 against New England, from the side who began the match last weekend, as Johan Kappelhof got the start over Mauricio Pineda in central defence, Gimenez replaced Luka Stojanovic, Miguel Navarro started in place of Fabian Herbers and Robert Beric took a spot in attack instead of Stanislav Ivanov.

Kenneth Kronholm is still out with a right knee injury, Francisco Calvo continues to have problems with his right thigh and Brian Gutierrez has been struggling to heal from a right ankle sprain.

Nashville attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar is making a solid case for why he deserves to be the league MVP, scoring his team-leading 11th and 12th goals of the season in their last match while also in first on the team in assists with eight.

Alistair Johnston scored his first career MLS goal along with his first-ever assist on Wednesday, and David Romney continues to see plenty of action, as he remains the only player on the team to feature in every minute of every match this year.

Walker Zimmerman scored his second goal of the season, and Anibal Godoy had his first assist away from home, setting a career-high for himself with five this season.

Chicago Fire possible starting lineup:
Slonina; Teran, Pineda, Bornstein, Sekulic, Omsberg; Gimenez; Herbers, Aliseda, Stojanovic; Beric

Nashville SC possible starting lineup:
Willis; Romney, Zimmerman, Lovitz; Godoy, Washington, Mukhtar, Johnston; Rios, Sapong, Leal


SM words green background

We say: Chicago Fire 1-3 Nashville SC

The Fire are a much better team at home than on the road, having scored in nine straight matches at Soldier Field, but they continuously make one too many costly errors.

Nashville have done almost everything right over the past few weeks, and unlike Chicago, if you give them any openings, they will make you pay.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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How you voted: Chicago Fire vs Nashville

Chicago Fire
16.7%
Draw
16.7%
Nashville SC
66.7%
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New York Red Bulls teammates celebrates after the game against the Orlando City SC on May 29, 2021
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Tables

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England30206459362366
2Nashville SCNashville291115346262048
3Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia291210740291146
4Orlando City2912984241145
5Atlanta UnitedAtlanta2911993933642
6DC United29125124941841
7CF MontrealMontreal29118104239341
8New York City FCNY City291171144331140
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls29117113530540
10Columbus Crew29107123639-337
11Inter MiamiInter Miami2995152547-2232
12Chicago Fire3077163148-1728
13Toronto2967163456-2225
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati2948172955-2620

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England30206459362366
2Nashville SCNashville291115346262048
3Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia291210740291146
4Orlando City2912984241145
5Atlanta UnitedAtlanta2911993933642
6DC United29125124941841
7CF MontrealMontreal29118104239341
8New York City FCNY City291171144331140
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls29117113530540
10Columbus Crew29107123639-337
11Inter MiamiInter Miami2995152547-2232
12Chicago Fire3077163148-1728
13Toronto2967163456-2225
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati2948172955-2620

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