Phase 1 of MLS’ return is just about finished, and Atlanta United wraps it up with a trip to Nashville this Saturday. The Five Stripes beat the Tennessean side 2-0 back on August 22nd, but since then results have been dire.
Atlanta has a draw and a loss against each Floridian outfit, and in turn is dangerously close to slipping out of the playoff race. Currently in 8th, just two points separate the Five Stripes from 12th. There’s no reason to suspect Atlanta can repeat its performances in the earlier meetings against Nashville, either. The scorer of both goals back in August, Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez, is now in Saudi Arabia, leaving Atlanta a tad short of quality options in attack. Cubo Torres’ slow start hasn’t helped either, but on the flip side, Jurgen Damm has been a consistent presence down the flank.
Nashville, meanwhile, is on a three game unbeaten run and has only two losses in its last seven outings. To be fair, there have been more draws than wins in that stretch, but there are signs of promise in Nashville. The defense has been all that was expected to be, with a mere nine goals conceded in nine games, which has included four shutouts. That’s clearly Nashville’s strong-suit, as goals seem hard to come by at the other end. The front line has totaled to a league worst tally of five. The signing of DP forward Jhonder Cadiz will certainly change that, but luckily enough he won’t be available Saturday.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Nashville SC 0-1 Atlanta United
Even with its current woes, Atlanta should do enough to earn the three points against a toothless Nashville. The space that Miami so ruthlessly exploited Wednesday won’t be as much of a weakness this time around considering Nashville’s offensive deficiencies. On the other hand, Ezequiel Barco and Co. will manage to create a goal or two from the heavy possession that we’ve come to expect from the Five Stripes.