Nashville SC is back in action for the second week of the 2022 Major League Soccer season with a clash against Minnesota United FC on Saturday night in Saint Paul.
The Boys in Gold enter this match with momentum after a thrilling 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC to open the season last Sunday night. Aníbal Godoy scored the match-winning goal in the 80’ minute after getting on the end of a pinpoint low cross from Randall Leal.
Nashville was the only Western Conference team to win on the road in Week One. In the club’s last eight regular season road matches, Nashville SC has earned four shutouts while outscoring its opponents 13-6. In its brief MLS history, Nashville SC is the league leader in clean sheets in the regular season with 23 and has recorded 15 clean sheets in 33 MLS road matches.
This weekend, Nashville SC faces a Minnesota team playing at home for the first time in 2022 and coming off a 1-1 draw at Philadelphia Union.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s match:
Date: Saturday, March 5
Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: Allianz Field (Saint Paul, Minn.)
Local Stream: NashvilleSC.com/stream
Out-of-market Stream: ESPN+
English Radio: iHeartRadio Online
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
Watch Party pres. By Scofflaw: HiFi Clyde’s
Keep it Rolling – Nashville SC made headlines in Week One with its victory over Seattle, not just for the result but also how the team went about it. The Boys in Gold limited the Sounders to just two shots on target and 0.48 expected goals.
Head Coach Gary Smith said the team demonstrated what it can do to have continued success on its eight-match road trip to start the 2022 season.
“I think we’ve shown at the weekend that we’re capable of going to some of the best teams in the league and getting on the front foot,” Smith said.” But we’re also capable of enduring some pressure, absorbing that and also being effective.”
Randall’s Role – Godoy scored the key goal last weekend, but it was Leal that provided the spark.
Leal's assist in the 80’ minute proved to be the turning point in the match against Seattle, and it came from his space on the right flank of the attack. It was Leal’s 12th assist in MLS.
Smith indicated in his press conference that he is willing to shift Leal around the formation to get some different looks in attack. The Costa Rican says he’s prepared for any role on the pitch.
“I always try to do my best in the position that he puts me in,” Leal said. “Now I need to play in this position, and I think it worked in Seattle. Now we just need to keep working and give everything.”
Scouting the Loons – Minnesota United FC finished the 2021 season fifth in the Western Conference with 49 points. That record earned them a date with the Portland Timbers in the First Round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, where they lost 3-1 to the eventual Western Conference champions.
This offseason, the club added to its attack by bringing back two former Loons: Luis Amarilla and Abu Danladi. Amarilla had played on loan with Minnesota in 2020, while Danladi was taken by Nashville SC in the 2019 Expansion Draft. He spent the last two seasons with the Boys in Gold.
Nashville SC and Minnesota have faced off once before on Oct. 6, 2020, with the match ending in a 0-0 draw at Nissan Stadium.
Smith says he sees a lot of his own tactics in Minnesota’s group.
“When you look at the shape of their group, there were many clips of Minnesota at the weekend that replicated an awful lot of things that we do and how we go about our business,” he said. “They’re tough to play against, they’ve got good balance to their group, they’ve got guys that are going to compete and roll their sleeves up. They’re physically dominant in certain areas, and they’ve also got some very crafty players that are capable of changing the course of any game.”