Nashville SC continues its season-opening homestand on Sunday when it takes on fellow 2020 expansion side Inter Miami CF at Nissan Stadium, pres. by Hyundai. The match will be broadcast to a national TV audience on ESPN.
Sunday’s match will mark the fourth-ever meeting between the two 2020 Major League Soccer newcomers. Nashville won two and drew one match against Inter Miami CF last season, including an eye-catching 3-0 win in the play-in round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s match:
History Enters a New Year - Inter Miami was one of Nashville SC’S most frequent opponents in 2020, facing off three times across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Now, they’ll play again in their second season in MLS. While Nashville SC’s roster and staff has remained more or less the same since last season, the same cannot be said for Inter Miami. Former England Women’s National Team coach Phil Neville has taken over as manager, and the club has added a host of new talent to the roster, including defenders Ryan Shawcross and Kelvin Leerdam.
Even though Miami could be without a few key attacking players for various reasons this weekend, Head Coach Gary Smith says he expects a tough test from Neville’s squad.
“Personally, I think they’ve made some good additions to the group to improve that team,” Smith said. “I know there were a lot of changes, but some of the guys that have come in, I think they’ve added some very good experience and depth to that group and strengthened certain areas. All in all, we know it’s going to be a really tough game. There’s a tremendous amount of attacking ability in the group. It would seem that Phil Neville has gotten the group far more organized and is starting to put his fingerprints on that team.”
Nealis Knows Best - Of all the players on Nashville SC’s roster, defender Dylan Nealis has the most familiarity with Inter Miami.
Nealis was traded from Miami to Nashville on April 10 after spending his rookie season in South Florida. He made 19 appearances under former manager Diego Alonso in 2020. He says it’ll be a strange experience to face his former club just weeks after being traded.
“It’s going to be weird,” Nealis said. “I was there, then quickly got traded here. I’ll see some familiar faces, but once I step onto that field it’s all a game to me, and I’m looking to get three points out of it this weekend.”
We’ll Do It Live – Sunday's match will be broadcast live across the country on ESPN, giving the club a chance to show what it’s made of in front of a national TV audience.
After conceding two early goals before clawing back for a draw in each of the first two matches of the season, Nashville SC will look to take its game to the next level against Inter Miami.
“I think we’re totally on the right track,” Smith said. “The emphasis from minute one in preseason was to be aggressive when we saw the schedule come out, to be positive and creative. Balance is key to every team. Maybe we’ve just started that creative process slightly too early in the game. That can be down to one or two reasons, and we’re trying to work through that. When we look at the body of work from last year and now look at where this team’s at in an attacking sense, we’ve moved in a really good direction. And I have absolutely no doubt, some of those fundamental qualities from last year -- they’re not far away.”
Tickets for Sunday’s match are available here.