When Nashville SC (8th place) finish hosting the New England Revolution (5th place) Friday night (8:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), the expansion side could move within one point of their guests in the Eastern Conference standings.
That possibility is only boosted by Nashville’s home form, since they’re 4W-0L-3D at Nissan Stadium since returning to play Aug. 12 and have outscored their opponents 11-4 during that stretch. Add in how they’ve scored three goals in back-to-back games, and Nashville’s quietly surging as they seek a spot in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“We’re flying high right now,” Nashville defender Taylor Washington said. “We’re going to continue that momentum against the Revs. It’s not easy to come travel on a gameday. We had to do it there and we were able to gain a crucial point, so for us to home against a good team, for us to be playing well as well, I think it’s going to be an incredible matchup that our momentum is going to carry us through.”
As Washington referenced, Nashville earned a 0-0 draw at New England back on Oct. 3 as injuries and absences piled up. Joe Willis turned in five saves at goalkeeper, and the defense-first formation kept rolling a team that’s lost just twice in its last 12 games.
Can't slow down now.— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) October 23, 2020
It's matchday in Music City. pic.twitter.com/OAH3WLZAhs
Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena expects a different setup from Nashville than their prior meeting, particularly given the playoff implications. Nashville can place serious pressure on New England for fifth place, plus they have a game in hand.
“I think it’s an important game for both teams,” Arena said. “Certainly helps establish our positions for the playoffs and try and make us obviously eligible for the playoffs, so it’s an important game for both teams. I don’t know what to expect from Nashville. My guess is that their posture will be a little bit different than when they played here at Gillette [on Oct. 3].”
As for difference-makers, Nashville could give Designated Player forward Jhonder Cadiz his first start after he scored against FC Dallas earlier this week. New England might prove less dependent on their DPs, since Gustavo Bou is recovering from a hamstring injury and Carles Gil is working back to full fitness after undergoing Achilles surgery in early August. Gil was spotted boarding the Revs' plane as they took for Nashville.
Both teams will need game-changing plays regardless, particularly with playoff implications front and center.
“Right now, we’re in a pretty good spot for the playoffs, but this game is really important,” Revolution outside back DeJuan Jones said. “This game will kind of put us over the hump. We’ll look to build off this game for momentum. We have a couple games left. We want to finish strong heading into the playoffs.”
It’s a similar tone from Nashville midfielder Anibal Godoy, whose prior five seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes exposed him to several playoff pushes. That leadership should prove vital for a Nashville side that’s shown few signs of slowing down.
“We need to maintain the unity we have inside the field, outside the field and also we need to maintain the effort we make all the game, 95 minutes, and the personality we have inside the field,” Godoy said. “This is not about 11 players, this is about all the team and when all the team is concentrated on one reason, I think it’s the best shape for everybody."