Nashville SC rooting guide: Sept. 21-22, 2018

Here is what Penn FC looks like.

The Boys in Gold are not making this easy on us: even with the out-of-town scoreboard not looking too bad, Nashville SC failed to collect points against a Tampa Bay Rowdies team that they really should have been able to beat. A combined four points from that game and tomorrow’s tilt against Charleston Battery would have been considered good-not-great.

Having only three of said points available (with the far tougher of the two opponents still on the slate) is tough. What’s going on around the East, and who should we be rooting for? Remember, your biggest rooting interest is always maximum points for Nashville.

Last week

Toronto FC II 3, New York Red Bulls II 3
With NYRBII in similar playoff positions to NSC, seeing them drop points was ideal.

Louisville City FC 2, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2
Following Nashville SC’s loss to Tampa, anything the top four teams do is relevant only in how it affects other sides, so this one turns out to be irrelevant.

Ottawa Fury FC 2, Richmond Kickers 0
This was entirely expected (Richmond is far and away the worst team in USL), though not a good result for Nashville.

Atlanta United 2 0, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1
This one not only set the stage for Tampa’s upset of Nashville, it allows the Rowdies to suddenly be in reasonable (though still unlikely) contention for a playoff spot.

Toronto FC II 3, FC Cincinnati 4
This one wasn’t super-important to anyone’s needs (these sides will finish last and first in the East, respectively, basically no matter what happens in the late stages), but would have been funny to see FCC lose.

North Carolina FC @ Penn FC
NCFC’s win actually moved them just one point back of Nashville SC in the table, a little close for comfort.

Louisville City FC 3, Penn FC 0
This dropped Penn FC into the depths of the battle for the eighth playoff position for the time being, a solid result for Nashville.

Charleston Battery 1, Charlotte Independence 1
This would have been a pretty exciting result had Nashville been able to beat Tampa Bay: dropped points for Charleston would have made tomorrow’s game a chance to get within four points with a game in hand. As it stands, neither team is in a particularly relevant position to NSC (though the draw did prevent Charlotte from muscling its way in there).

Friday

North Carolina FC @ Atlanta United 2
6:00 p.m. • Watch/follow

ATL UTD 2 has actually been playing pretty well at home lately, which could bode ill for Nashville in the not-too-distant future, but be helpful here. As mentioned above, NCFC is only one point back of Nashville and even on games played, so dropping points would help NSC retain that margin.

Saturday

Toronto FC II @ Bethlehem Steel
2:00 p.m. • Watch/follow

TFCII is almost certain to finish in last place (theoretically they could pass Richmond, who started the year better but has proven to be a much worse team over the course of the season) whereas Bethlehem is in the playoff positions. Should the Steel lose, it would put them only three points ahead of Nashville with three games in hand – a reasonable margin to close (and one that would have been a sure-thing before this awful recent run of form from the Boys in Gold). You’re cheering for TFCII here.

New York Red Bulls II @ Charlotte Independence
6:00 p.m. • Watch/follow

Charlotte is far enough back (three points, giving up a game in hand) that a win here might not be the most damaging thing. That’s especially true if you, like I do, think they aren’t likely to perform well in the stretch run of the season. With NYRBII right in the thick of the hunt with Nashville, it could be the most beneficial if you have faith in NSC to perform well. Otherwise, the sides splitting points so Red Bulls don’t get too far ahead while the Independence has a tougher time to catch from behind might be more your bag.

FC Cincinnati @ Penn FC
6:00 p.m. • Watch/follow

Cincy can’t be caught in the East (barring a miracle – they’d have to lose every remaining game while Pittsburgh wins every remaining game), and is only a few points away from clinching the USL Supporter’s Shield outright (four teams in the West are still competing). At this point, it might make the most sense for them to clinch as early as possible, so they’re just going through the motions in the season finale at Nashville. Go FCC.

Indy Eleven @ Pittsburgh Riverhounds
6:00 p.m. • Watch/follow

With Tuesday’s loss all-but officially taking a top-four finish off the table, Nashville wants the teams in those positions (including Pittsburgh) to knock down playoff contenders as much as possible. A fifth-place finish is realistic, and Indy losing this game would make it all the more plausible.

Ottawa Fury FC @ Louisville City FC
6:30 p.m. • Watch/follow

Ottawa is currently in seventh in the East (albeit two point ahead with two more games played than ninth-place Nashville), and seeing them lose is always helpful. Meanwhile, Louisville is unreachable in second place. LCFC has not been a good home team this year, but getting it done here would be a huge boost to their neighbors to the South.

Richmond Kickers @ Tampa Bay Rowdies
6:30 p.m. • Watch/follow

Richmond is terrible, and Tampa Bay is looking better after spending some deadline-day transfer money. It’s unlikely the Kickers mount much of a challenge to a side that was already pretty good at protecting its home turf. It’d be helpful if they could get a shocking result, though.

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