Nashville SC (9W-9L-9D, 36 pts.) is hitting the road for its longest trip of the season against Western Conference foe Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9W-11L-7D, 34 pts.) on Saturday night.
The Boys in Gold are coming off a decisive 4-0 victory over FC Dallas last Sunday night at GEODIS Park, tying its largest margin of victory in club history. MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar had a brace, giving him 16 goals on the season and tying him for the league lead in goal contributions with 25. Newcomer Jacob Shaffelburg also got on the score sheet in his Nashville SC debut.
With just two points separating Nashville and Vancouver in the Western Conference standings, Saturday’s result could continue an important run of form for the Boys in Gold. The team will return home to GEODIS Park next week for two matches, marking a stretch of three matches in eight days.
Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s matchup:
Date: Saturday, Aug. 31
Time: 9:00 p.m. CT
Location: BC Place (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Local Stream: NashvilleSC.com/stream, Nashville SC App
English Radio: iHeartRadio Online, Nashville SC App
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7 FM
Watch Party: Diskin Cider, pres. By Hive
Good Vibes – Last Sunday’s 4-0 win over FC Dallas was important in more ways than one.
It launched Nashville SC back above the playoff line, put it within just two points of fifth place and represented the team’s highest goal output of 2022.
On top of that, Head Coach Gary Smith said it brought a much-needed brightness and energy to the team.
“It’s been a good week, a positive week from a very upbeat group,” Smith said. “It’s amazing what a win can do for everyone. It certainly makes the whole environment that much more bright and purposeful. Some really good work.”
Playoff Race – With seven matches remaining in the regular season, the Western Conference playoff race is still up for grabs. Nashville SC sits in sixth place with 36 points, two ahead of LA Galaxy in seventh and Vancouver in eighth. Just five points separate fifth place from ninth place.
Saturday’s match will have major playoff implications with the two teams so close together in the standings. Smith says between the remaining home and away matches, Nashville SC has everything to play for.
“We have a nice platform here and there’s a really good confidence in the group,” Smith said. “There’s a belief that maybe we’ve turned the corner. We have four games still to play at home, albeit against some good sides. This one represents something slightly different, but to maintain this momentum would certainly be hugely helpful.”
Vancouver Rematch – This will be Nashville SC’s second-ever match against Whitecaps FC, and the first on the road in Vancouver. On July 30, the two sides played to a 1-1 draw at GEODIS Park.
Smith says Vancouver, a team that took seven of its nine total victories at home, presents a unique challenge on the road, and the Boys in Gold will be up for it given the circumstances in the season.
“We’re in the final stretch,” Smith said. “I think the understanding for every group, and Vancouver is no different, is that you want to take advantage of every game in front of you. I'm not sure they play any differently at home than they do away. They’ve got a particular style, they’re very well-organized, everyone knows their roles. No away game is easy, but I think we’ve shown throughout this year that it doesn’t matter where we play, there’s a real belief and determination that we will get something out of the game. I think the guys are in that mindset.”