Once upon a time Minnesota United FC were an expansion team that were shipping goals at a record pace. On Tuesday night, they will face an expansion side that are doing things a bit differently (8:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info).
Nashville SC don’t score much — their 11 goals are tied for the second lowest total in MLS — but their defense is lockdown, and their 14 goals allowed in 14 matches are tied for fewest by an MLS expansion team with the 2009 Seattle Sounders.
“This group has shown great endeavors not only to compete, but to make life incredibly difficult [for opponents] when things have gone against us,” said Nashville coach Gary Smith. “We knew in our inaugural season that things weren’t going to be going swimmingly for us all the time, but these players have really shown some real backbone.”
But they’re facing a formidable attack on Tuesday with Kei Kamara, Bebelo Reynoso and Kevin Molino all clicking. Two players Nashville won't have to deal with are Luis Amarilla and Jan Gregus as Amarilla is still nursing an injury and Gregus has left for international duty.
“I think they’ve done well. They’re very well organized, they’ve got an experienced team,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said Monday. “Like us, they’ve got a few injuries at this moment in time, and I think we’re all going to be in the same boat. It’s going to be as much mental as it is physical. The fact that you’ve got yourself up in 36 hours, now you’re next day preparing for another game. We know it’s going to be tough, they’ve done well of late. We know it’s going to be a tough challenge but one if we play as well as can we’re more than capable of getting a result.”
On the Nashville side, new DP striker Jhonder Cadiz isn't expected to make his debut until the weekend.
Return of fans
Nashville will have the support of fans for the first time since they set a record back in February as they return to Nissan Stadium for the first time since they broke the Tennessee attendance record for a soccer match with 59,069 fans supporting the Boys in Gold in their inaugural Major League Soccer match on Feb. 29. The fans will return to Nissan Stadium under strict capacity limits and safety guidelines. Click here for tickets and safety information into Nissan Stadium under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, including mandatory mask, social distanced seating pods, over 300 hand sanitizing stations and more.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” defender Alistair Johnston said. “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s kind of the next step in hopefully returning to normalcy. We’re just excited to be able to experience the game with our fans. We had a great time in that first game at home in February, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to share a moment with them. We’re hoping to get a couple goals and be able to celebrate with the fans again."