Following the first phase of preseason camp held in Tampa, Florida, Nashville SC returned to GEODIS Park on Jan. 30 for the first time in 2023.
Hosting USL Championship side Louisville City FC behind closed doors, the Boys in Gold played to a scoreless draw.
Here’s the latest from preseason camp, pres. by Vanderbilt Health:
With preseason halfway done and another segment of camp in Florida on the horizon, Head Coach Gary Smith shared his satisfaction with the group’s work and progression following the friendly.
“Wonderful to be back here [at GEODIS Park], the surface was immaculate,” said Smith. “It was a really nice opportunity to give some of the guys a little bit of extra time. I think it was seven outfield players in the end got up to 60 minutes and to be honest, the whole group are in a really good physical place.”
Smith was pleased with the performance, mentioning the high level of intensity and competition.
“Louisville were very, very competitive,” he said. “It was almost a perfect preseason game where you get an awful lot out of it on both sides of the ball.”
Newcomers and Rising Stocks
Experienced winger Fafà Picault, a Nashville newcomer this season, has given Smith a new dimension in attack.
“I think Fafà gives us an almost identical look on that right hand side to what we've been seeing from Jacob [Shaffelburg] in those final sort of moments,” Smith said. “A really dynamic look, lots of threat in behind, pace and energy. With those two guys on either flank, it’s starting to open up areas even more so for the likes of Hany [Mukhtar] and Teal [Bunbury].”
Smith also mentioned the continuous growth of Josh Bauer and Jack Maher in the back line.
“Josh is growing, not only with his game but in stature and confidence,” he said. “Jack has, I think, stepped up to the plate, looked very assured and he’s really looking forward to the challenge this year.”
With the team’s short stay in Nashville coming to an end, Smith highlighted the significance of breaking up the preseason and allowing the team to return to their homes and the team facility.
“This is, I think, for me, the most important element of this week back in Nashville,” he said.
Now, the focus shifts back to preseason training camp as the Boys in Gold prepare for the final weeks before the home opener on Feb. 25.
“The focus is to look a little bit closer at some of those connections, build in a little bit more pressure, changes of pace, some of that link play that you might see or creating moments and bodies in the box to be effective,” Smith said. “And hopefully, as one or two of these guys get closer to match sharpness, we'll see something a little bit more natural, especially in attack.”
Overall, Smith is looking forward to seeing the primary group of players coalesce in the final phase of preseason in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Right now, as we work through what we could class as the middle point of preseason, there’s a lot of things to be encouraged about,” Smith said. “Team is in a good place and looking forward to getting what might look like a starting group together as we move into the St. Pete element of preseason in about a week or so.”