2021.06.18 NYRB-66

One last battle in the regular season is on deck. And this one is on national television. 

Nashville SC (12W-4L-17D, 53 pts.) is set to face off against New York Red Bulls (13W-12L-8D, 47 pts.) on Sunday afternoon at Nissan Stadium. The MLS Decision Day 2021 match will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.  

The Boys in Gold have clinched a top-four seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and will host at least the First Round at Nissan Stadium. However, Nashville is still fighting for playoff seeding and could finish anywhere from second to fourth place by the end of Decision Day. Meanwhile, New York Red Bulls will be looking to secure a playoff spot with a win or draw.  

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

Date: Sunday, Nov. 7 

Time: 2:30 p.m. CT 

Location: Nissan Stadium 

TV: ESPN and ESPN Deportes 

Stream: ESPN App 

English Radio: ESPN 94.9 

Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7 

Jockeying for Position – While Nashville SC has locked up a top-four playoff position, Sunday’s results could affect Nashville’s seeding. A win on Sunday against New York Red Bulls, coupled with dropped points by Philadelphia Union at New York City FC, could put Nashville SC back into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. 

Head Coach Gary Smith says that the experienced players on Nashville’s roster will help the team navigate a Decision Day with implications in play.  

“I think the experience of having been in a playoff situation last year will help our group,” Smith said. “We’ve got multiple players that have been in this position at this stage of the season, and that experience will serve them well. I’ve often felt that if you can just keep your focus on the job you’ve got to do, there’s no concerns about what’s going on elsewhere. We’ll focus on what we can do and what we can control, and if we get our job done then I have no doubt that things around us will fall into place.” 

Momentum Needed? - The First Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs run from Nov. 20-23, nearly two weeks after Decision Day. While Smith says the team wants to end the regular season on a good note, the impacts on playoff momentum remain to be seen.  

“I think it makes a lot of a difference,” Smith said of the break leading into the playoffs. “I would say it’s one of few times if any that there’s been such a long break until the playoffs commence. Yes, you want to finish well. There are all sorts of reasons why we want to finish well. So I don’t think that will affect the game, but in terms of preparing for the postseason, I think there will be a very different look to that than we’ve seen in the past.” 

Red Bulls on Parade – On Sept. 16, New York Red Bulls sat well below the playoff line and had won just one of its previous 11 matches dating back to early July. On Sept. 17, the Red Bulls won 4-0 on the road at Inter Miami CF. New York has lost just once in 10 matches since then.  

That turnaround has put the club in position to clinch a playoff spot with a win or draw against Nashville SC on Sunday. Outside help from other clubs fighting for playoff spots could also put the Red Bulls into the postseason.  

Nashville and New York have already met once this year with the Red Bulls earning a 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena on June 18. 

Smith says he knows what to expect from a red-hot Red Bulls team.  

“I don’t think they know any other way than flat-out,” Smith said. “They’re an incredibly high-energy team, all of the stats that you want to look at will tell you the immense pressure they put their opponents under. What I know is we’re going to run into a very upwardly mobile group looking to try and earn points, but they’ll know full well we’re trying to secure a top two or three spot. It should be a very good game.”