MX23RW : Saturday, June 19 00:18:00| >> :120:56270:56270:
Apr 18, 2021 at 1.30am UK at Nissan Stadium
NashvilleNashville SC
2-2
CincinnatiFC Cincinnati
Cadiz (20'), Leal (64')
Muyl (18'), Johnston (66')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Acosta (8'), Brenner (12' pen.)
Mokotjo (38'), Stanko (77')

Preview: Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Two of the newer clubs in Major League Soccer will do battle on Saturday as Nashville SC host FC Cincinnati from Nissan Stadium in the first match of the regular season for both clubs.

Nashville are coming off an impressive inaugural campaign in MLS, making the Eastern Conference semi-finals, while Cincinnati finished dead last a season ago with only six wins in both the regular season and the MLS is Back tournament.


Match preview

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith walks off the field after falling to Atlanta United at Nissan Stadium in February 2020© Reuters

There is a lot of optimism in Nashville following their first MLS season, when they won eight games in the regular campaign and upset Toronto FC in the MLS Cup playoffs last November.

Gary Smith's side had a strong season defensively in 2020, allowing only 22 goals, the third-fewest among MLS teams.

However, they will hope to score a few more goals this season after netting just 24 times last term - once again the third-fewest in the league.

Heading into their second MLS campaign, the challenge for Nashville is to improve their performance and prove that last season was not merely a case of beginner's luck.

FC Cincinnati will hope that their third season is the charm after back-to-back miserable campaigns in MLS.

Beginning his first full term in charge, manager Jaap Stam knows he has a lot of work to do when it comes to improving a team that has finished at the bottom of the overall standings in their first two seasons in the league.

In 2020 they scored a league-low 12 regular season goals while conceding 36 - the third-highest tally in the division.

They were among the busier clubs in the off-season, adding a pair of designated players in the hope of reversing their fortunes.

After a tough 2020 the only place for Cincinnati to go is seemingly up, although it will be hard to tell how much they can improve.

Nashville SC pre-season form:

  • W
  • W

FC Cincinnati pre-season form:

  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L


Team News

FC Cincinnati head coach Jaap Stam during the second half against the Atlanta United FC at ESPN Wide World of Sports in July 2020© Reuters

Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis led the MLS in clean sheets a season ago with nine.

The 32-year-old got plenty of help from his defenders last season, particularly Walker Zimmerman, the reigning defender of the year in MLS and an all-star in 2019.

CJ Sapong will be entrusted to help Nashville in the goalscoring department; he has 71 goals and 25 assists in 276 career MLS appearances.

Cincinnati will have a new look to their attack with the signing of Brazilian striker Brenner, who had 11 goals and three assists in the Brazilian top tier before signing with Cincy.

Midfielder Luciano Acosta is another newcomer to the squad, and the team will be counting on the Argentine to return to his 2018 form when he was named to the MLS Best XI.

Defenders Ronald Matarrita and Edgar Castillo will bring a lot of experience to the backline, which they will need after not renewing the contract of captain Kendall Waston and releasing Saad Abdul-Salaam.

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

FC Cincinnati possible starting lineup:
Tyton; Pettersson, Van der Werff, Matarrita, Gyau; Amaya, Mokotjo, Locadia, Acosta, Barreal; Brenner


SM words green background

We say: Nashville SC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

Nashville only lost twice at Nissan Stadium last season thanks to a top-class defensive unit and excellent goalkeeping.

Cincinnati are a better team on paper heading into a new season, but it will take some time for this team to acclimatise to a new system, while the newcomers will need some in-game experience to adapt to the MLS game.



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: Nashville vs Cincinnati

Nashville SC
72.7%
Draw
18.2%
FC Cincinnati
9.1%
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Jaap Stam in charge of Feyenoord on September 19, 2019
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Tables

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England8521117417
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia842295414
3Orlando City733184412
4New York City FCNY City7322137611
5Nashville SCNashville725096311
6CF MontrealMontreal8323109111
7Columbus Crew732276111
8Atlanta UnitedAtlanta724197210
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls7304101009
10DC United8305811-39
11Inter MiamiInter Miami8224813-58
12Toronto7124812-45
13Chicago Fire7115411-74
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati6114615-94

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England8521117417
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia842295414
3Orlando City733184412
4New York City FCNY City7322137611
5Nashville SCNashville725096311
6CF MontrealMontreal8323109111
7Columbus Crew732276111
8Atlanta UnitedAtlanta724197210
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls7304101009
10DC United8305811-39
11Inter MiamiInter Miami8224813-58
12Toronto7124812-45
13Chicago Fire7115411-74
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati6114615-94

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