2022.07.13 LAFC-197

Decision Day is here.  

Audi MLS Cup Playoffs bound Nashville SC (12W-10L-11D, 47 pts.) will close out the 2022 regular season vs. Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC (21W-8L-4D, 67 pts.) on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.  

Nashville SC has already clinched its spot in the playoffs for the third season in a row and enter Decision Day in fifth place in the Western Conference, just three points shy of third place. Should Nashville finish in third or fourth place in the Western Conference, the Boys in Gold would secure a home playoff match at GEODIS Park the weekend of Oct. 15 through Monday, Oct. 17.   

Standing in the way of that is LAFC, which clinched the 2022 Supporters’ Shield last weekend as the top team in MLS during the regular season. The Boys in Gold will look to crash the party at Banc of California Stadium.  

Additionally, midfielder Hany Mukhtar will look to wrap up the 2022 MLS Golden Boot pres. by Audi as the league’s scoring leader. Entering the weekend, he leads MLS in goals with 23, two more than second-place Sebastián Driussi of Austin FC.  

Nashville SC is hosting a community block party and official watch party to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Plaza Mariachi, the Latin-focused multicultural center of Music City. We’ll have games, food, drinks, giveaways, merch and an appearance from Tempo the Coyote. It all starts at 3 p.m. at Plaza Mariachi. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s match: 

Date: Sunday, Oct. 9 
Time: 4:00 p.m. CT 
Location: Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles, Calif.) 
TV: MyTV30 
Local Stream: NashvilleSC.com/stream, Nashville SC App 
English Radio: iHeartRadio Online, Nashville SC App 
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7 FM 
Watch Party: Plaza Mariachi 

Home Playoff Scenarios – Nashville SC is guaranteed to host a playoff match at GEODIS Park in Round One if: 

-Nashville SC WIN at LAFC AND FC Dallas LOSS vs. Sporting Kansas City OR

-Nashville SC WIN at LAFC AND LA Galaxy DRAW/LOSS at Houston Dynamo FC OR

-Nashville SC DRAW at LAFC AND LA Galaxy LOSS at Houston Dynamo FC AND Minnesota United FC DRAW/LOSS vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC AND Portland Timbers DRAW/LOSS at Real Salt Lake

Head Coach Gary Smith says the main focus is finishing the regular season on a high note.  

“I think every team wants to go into the playoffs in a good mood and good rhythm,” Smith said. “[The players] are in a good place mentally and I would love to finish the season off in the very best possible way. If that takes us to a home game, then that’s the cherry on the cake. If we look at this as another big opportunity to prove ourselves, then my mindset is that we get the points we need to finish up in one of those top four spots.” 

Road Form – The Boys in Gold will end the 2022 season in the same situation as it started it in: on the road.  

Nashville SC weathered an eight-match road trip before opening GEODIS Park on May 1. Overall this season, the team has a 6W-5L-5D record away from home.  

 Smith says the road mentality is similar to how he wants his team to play in the playoffs.  

“If you want to succeed on the road or do well in the playoffs, it’s not necessarily about what shape or what players are on the pitch,” Smith said. “It’s the mentality in the game. There are going to be times this weekend where we’ll be under pressure. The good and determined teams roll their sleeves up and weather that storm. The teams that are not going to succeed buckle under that pressure. I think we’ve got all the right characters and I think we still have that drive and ambition. I would hope that we’ll show just as good an away performance as we’ve done all year.” 

Scouting LAFC – This will be the second-ever match between Nashville and LAFC, and the first to take place in Los Angeles. On July 17, LAFC took a 2-1 win over Nashville SC at GEODIS Park. Cristian Arango opened the scoring for the Black and Gold in that match before Hany Mukhtar equalized for Nashville from the penalty spot before halftime. A José Cifuentes goal in the first minute of the second half put LAFC up for good.  

Smith says that matchup in July showed the type of quality the regular season champions have in their arsenal.  

“When you run into some of these guys up close like Arango, [Carlos] Vela and [Kellyn] Acosta, you see some of the finer details of quality in their game,” Smith said. “The reason that they’re champions is because, over a consistent period, they’ve been able to keep themselves at that level. That level is a tremendously good one. Therefore, we need to make sure that we’re at our very best without the ball, and we show all of the structural discipline that we have in the past. But, we’re also going to have to give them a little bit of a bloody nose every now and then and show what we’re about going forward.”

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