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.
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:
FC Cincinnati pre-season form:
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
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.