They say that you should learn something new everyday, but Atlanta United’s clash against Nashville should take care of a month or two. In the 171 days since the Tennessee side’s first ever MLS game at a packed Nissan Stadium, the landscape has been drastically altered both on and off the pitch. Josef Martinez is out with a season ending injury, leaving Atlanta rather thin at the striker position. Frank de Boer, meanwhile, is no longer gracing the Five Stripes’ touchline after a “mutual termination” following a dreadful MLS is Back performance.
What the club will look like next, or even this particular match is unknown. Now that De Boer is gone, will Pity Martinez open up and show that the flashes of quality we’ve seen are more than just flashes? Are Cubo Torres and Jurgen Damm going to start finding the end product, or will the absence of Josef continue to bring the team down? Are we going to see Atlanta United Football Club score a goal?
No matter what, there is plenty to look forward to. Atlanta United opens up a six game stretch of clashes with Nashville, Miami, and Orlando when the Tennessean side visits Mercedes Benz Stadium at 7 EST on Saturday.
Interim manager Stephen Glass takes over a side currently in 7th on six points. Most years that would be right on the playoff line, though for some reason MLS felt the need to expand the playoffs from 14 teams to 18 this year. Don’t ask me. Anyway, this means that finishing 10th in the East will be enough to keep its postseason streak alive. Atlanta, though, is only one point above the red line, so it won’t be a walk in the park.
Nashville, meanwhile, may be in 11th, but has quietly had a solid start to life in the big league, despite missing out on MLS is Back thanks to a coronavirus outbreak. After one goal losses to Atlanta and Portland, Nashville went unbeaten in a two game series at FC Dallas, winning 1-0 and drawing nil-nil. There have been a mere five goals at either end for the Music City, so as you would expect from the roster Gary Smith put together, defense is the strong suit, but there’s no clear scorer up front. Still, a win, a draw, and two losses is nothing to scoff at for an expansion side, especially as Miami finds itself 0-0-5.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Atlanta United 1-1 Nashville SC
Not much is going to separate the two sides, but Atlanta should at least get on the scoresheet. Nashville’s backline will hold strong for the most part, while a sequence of defensive mistakes similar to what we saw in the bubble will land Nashville it’s equalizer. A point is about what we should expect considering all of the factors circling the Five Stripes, compared to Nashville’s sturdiness and clear identity.