NASHVILLE – Head Coach Gary Smith’s side had another productive week of training as the team prepares for its first test this weekend. The Boys in Gold kick off their preseason campaign against Louisville City FC on Saturday, March 20 at 3:30 p.m. CT at Curry Ingram Academy.
Here’s what stood out during training ahead of Saturday’s friendly:
TH: With MLS kickoff less than a month away, the level of intensity in training was noticeable watching from the sidelines. It was high! That comes from competition across the roster. There are multiple options for Head Coach Gary Smith in many positions now. Coach Steve Guppy took the wingers for a spot of extra training, too. Guppy was a superb wide man himself in his day; I was fortunate enough to watch him in his prime in England. One of his secrets was an obsession with practice and repetition. Talking to Alex Muyl after the session, it was clear that’s rubbing off on him. The former New York Red Bull will open his account for Nashville SC soon enough based on his work ethic and time spent with Guppy on finishing. Kudos to Taylor Washington for the best strike of that session, curling one beautifully into the far corner with his left foot.
JW: Everyone obviously enjoys the finishing side of things, but what stood out to me today was how the partnership of Dave Romney and Walker Zimmerman has seamlessly picked up where it left off last season. When talking with Romney after practice, he pointed out to us that he’s being more vocal in communicating with the guys in front of him to make sure they are applying pressure defensively when the ball is turned over. He stated that this has been an area of emphasis this preseason from Gary Smith, so it’s on him and Zimmerman to implement that on the field.
JW: As we shift our focus to the first preseason match this weekend, I’m looking for two things. First, who is going to step up and raise their stock in the eyes of the coaching staff? With Randall Leal away on international duty, does Handwalla Bwana stake his claim? Does Rodrigo Piñeiro make his debut, and can he make a good first impression? Results aren’t overly important in preseason games, but individual performances amongst the team performance certainly are. I’ll be keeping my eye on the wide guys, for sure. And secondly, I’m interested in what kind of work this group puts in as they build their match fitness. Being fit and being match fit, are two different things. Match fitness involves a lot more reactive and instinctual movements. Some fitness is built in short bursts and change of pace, and some fitness is built in longer runs tracking players defensively. You can dedicate significant time to setting up fitness drills on the training ground, but no player truly feels fit until they’re “match fit.” That will come from games like Saturday, and it will appropriately put the cap on phase one of preseason ahead of their trip to Florida next week where they’ll have several more games to continue the build towards opening day on April 17.
TH: We almost forgot Walker Zimmerman’s hair, no sign of a cut yet...
Click here for the team’s 2021 preseason schedule. Keep up with all the preseason action by following Nashville SC on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok @NashvilleSC.