mls Nashville SC

Breaking down Nashville SC’s 2020 schedule

Now that we know the 2020 Nashville SC schedule, let’s break it down just a bit.

We already knew that the Western Conference was the (slightly) stronger of the two last year, though more broadly distributed with LAFC far above the pack, most of the rest of the teams bunched in the middle, and a couple stragglers at the back.

Across the Mississippi

(A phrase which here means, “actually not across the Mississippi”

Now we know who NSC’s crossover opponents from the East will be, and where those games will be played. That means we can look at the teams’ relative strengths according to location:

Date Opponent Time (ET) 2019 Power
2/29/2020 Atlanta United FC 8:00 PM +0.26
3/14/2020 @ Toronto FC 4:00 PM +0.67
3/21/2020 Columbus Crew SC 2:00 PM -0.16
4/18/2020 DC United 8:00 PM -0.61
4/26/2020 @ New York City FC 5:00 PM +0.58
5/3/2020 Inter Miami CF 6:00 PM
5/13/2020 Philadelphia Union 8:00 PM +0.31
5/30/2020 @ FC Cincinnati 7:30 PM -1.14
7/11/2020 @ New England Revolution 7:30 PM -0.90
9/12/2020 @ Orlando City SC 7:30 PM -0.02
Power ratings methodology is explained here, it’s essentially comparing performance against an average team, adjusting for opposition and location.

The teams Nashville SC misses entirely are New York Red Bulls (10th MLS in average between home and away power), Montreal Impact (18th), and Chicago Fire.

Nashville gets Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia, Cincinnati (can fill the stadium all they want: they were worse at home than on the road), New England, and Orlando in their “weaker” location – worth noting that since these are normalized scores, being worse at home than away doesn’t necessarily mean a worse record (since the average home team wins 1.75-1.20, and has an xG advantage of 1.56-1.18).

Toronto (extremely good at home, well-below average away), Columbus (bad in both, way worse at home), and New York City (good in both, better at their insane stadium) are played in their stronger venues. Of course, we don’t know whether Miami will be a #ProtecttheFortress or #RoadWarriors type of outfit.

Road trippin’

For Nashville SC fans hoping to get in some Western Conference venues during the team’s indefinite stay in that half the league, there is one extremely intriguing option:

  • @ LAFC Saturday June 27
  • @ LA Galaxy Wednesday July 1

Find a place to stay in the City of Angels for a couple days, and you have yourself a back-to-back. If you’re extremely Californian-feelin’, you can also drive down from San Jose a week before the Los Angeles double-dip, with a Saturday, June 20 date in the Bay.

The rest of the games will be one-off (or “fly between consecutive away games”-type) trips. Although NSC plays nearly all of May and June on the road, that California trip seems like the only reasonable one for traveling between the contests.

I don’t have an interesting third heading, but Comedy Rule of Threes and all

Nashville’s schedule is somewhat reminiscent of the final season in USL: some long(-ish) home stretches, but brutal lengths of time away from Music City. Unlike the USL season, that doesn’t mean closing out with several consecutive home games to end the year. Six of the final nine are on the road, though one is in an extremely cheap place to fly (Orlando) and the other is the lone drivable-for-non-insane-people Western matchup (Kansas City).

The schedule is exciting. I am excited.

Boys in Gold will play their 2019 squads (or in Accam’s case, last 2019 squad):

  • David Accam – Columbus Crew March 21
  • Jalil Anibaba – @ New England Revolution July 11
  • Dominique Badji – FC Dallas May 9, @ FC Dallas Aug. 23
  • Abu Danladi – @ Minnesota United June 13, Minnesota United Aug. 1
  • Anibal Godoy – @ San Jose Earthquakes June 20, San Jose Earthquakes July 25
  • Daniel Lovitz – No games against Montreal
  • Dax McCarty – No games against Chicago
  • Jimmy Medranda & Adrian Zendejas – Sporting KC April 11, @ Sporting KC Sept. 19
  • Eric Miller – @ New York City April 26
  • Joe Willis – @ Houston Dynamo, May 23, Houston Dynamo Aug 5

What other observations do you have about the schedule? Share in the comments or through social channels.


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