Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith sat down with the media to preview his team’s upcoming game. Watch or read his full comments here:
“With these midweek games, what we’ve found is the best setup is to come straight back in the following day from the journey back. So Sunday morning – we landed late Saturday night and we were back in again Sunday morning – just really to take stock of where everyone was at physically. Some of the guys that didn’t get a lot of action did some work. Then today becomes a little bit easier to navigate and move forward with, and then of course tomorrow we have our prep day. So no rest this week. We find those opportunities possibly in the windows where there’s no midweek game.
“The guys are in really good emotional state. Disappointment of defeat of course, but I just wanted to try and reinforce with them some of the progress, some of the positives from the weekend, and I think we’re in a fairly decent spot moving towards the DC game.”
How important is the energy of someone like Taylor Washington, or the energy up top on a quick turnaround?
“What a lot of teams are finding, Drake, as this quite-unique schedule unfolds, is just the difficulties of finding the sort of purpose and positivity that you’re talking about. When games come thick and fast, some of the groups, I think – and ourselves included – have run into a lack of energy. You’re on the road maybe back-to-back and it can be a real drain, physically and emotionally.”
“So to your point, it’s very, very important that not only do we have enough energy on the field, but our attitude’s positive enough. Our home ground, and Titans’ sTadium has been good to us so far. I think our attitude personally has reinforced what we would like to be a tough place to play. My hope is the team I put out has got enough tempo and passion about them to get back onto a winning track on Wednesday night. It won’t be easy, but as I’ve said it’s been a good place to play, and my hope is that confidence of being back at home helps us get the result that we’re after.”
What will be the most difficult parts of Dan Lovitz’s game to replace in his absence with yellow card accumulation?
“There’s a couple things with Daniel’s omission. The first is that we’ve had a pretty settled back line for some of the other changes that have occurred around the group, we’ve stuck with what has become quite a well-drilled and workmnanlike unit, and he’ll be missed in that respect. There’s a contunuity aspect of it.
“I just think his personality and his experience pre- and during the game. He’s played at a very, very good level – he’s played for his country – and as you might expect, when things are not going so well, he’s one of those guys that I think a lot of people rely upon, When things are going well, he’s also got the energy and quality to try and for the issue, and press a few of those positive and attacking buttons.
“It gives somebody else another chance, though. When one door closes, it opens up for somebody else. I do think that this run of games that we’re having is a good opportunity for a lot of young players and a lot of players that maybe in a normal season may not have gotten a look in around the starting eleven as much as they are – and I mean around the league now, not just our group. So it’s a nice opportunity for someone else.”
Do you expect to have some of the players who missed the Columbus game with injury back?
“Randall has been involved the last couple of days, and he’s making some nice progress. You’ve got Dave Accam and Abu [Danladi] who are slightly behind Randall, and I would suspect are going to find it difficult now for Wednesday, to be part of that group. Aside that, we’re probably no different to anyone else: we’ve got bodies that are sore, in some cases banged-up a little bit.
“I think the guys are getting used to the fact that they’re feeling the difficulties and pains that they are, and they’re getting on with it. I’m ultra-pleased about their attitude and their application in the difficult circumstances. And I would hope that most people from the weekend are available and ready to go again.”
What have you seen out of DC so far this season?
“DC, I’ve seen a reasonable amount of them, not just recently but over a period of time. Benny Olsen’s been there a long time now. First and foremost, I do think they emulate the type of player he was and the type of character he is, which would make a lot of sense. A competitor, really determined character, and a very genuine personality as well. I think the very minimum you get from DC United teams are a very tough game. They’re as competitive as they come.
“Outside of that, I think they’ve been rocked by injuries to a couple of important players, [Paul] Arriola obviously being at the top of that list. But with a couple of additions – I know Rivas has played up top the last couple of games and they’ve just brought him in recently – they’ve made a couple of signings that I think have helped them, but they’re obviously in a bit of an up-and-down form. I’m sure they’re coming to our place thinking if they can get a result, then it gets them on their way again, and starts off a bit of an unbeaten run, and puts a bit of a pin in maybe our aspirations as well.
“They’re not as easy to work out as some other teams, just purely because of their change in shape and their change in personnel. Some of that, as I’ve said, may be enforced [by injury]. Others, maybe Benny’s opinions on what, where, and how they’re going to improve. But as I’ve said, what you do know is they’re a side that certainly don’t give up and are constantly looking for opportunities to either get in front or get back in the game, and rarely do you have an easy night against them.”
How much easier is a two-game week with both at home rather than a travel schedule?
“It helps immensely. I think we’re all finding that the day of a game – it’s very different, you’re up at an earlier time, you’re on a flight. Albeit the league have done a great job of keeping these games in close proximity, so you’re not making long journeys that are so detrimental or tiring to the group. But it’s a long day. You’re into a new environment at the other end, and then of course you get the physical aspect of playing in somebody else’s backyard and trying to get a result.
Those days are not easy. You get back late, you’re trying to get the schedule and the training protocols right to recover or to prepare, and normally they roll into one. So to have two games at home is hugely helpful, especially as we’ve had some decent nights so far in the Titans’ Stadium. Knowing how tight this league is, I would think it’s going to be a really, really tough night on Wednesday. Both teams will feel as though they maybe missed opportunities in different ways at the weekend, and they’ll know how important this midweek game is going into a short turnaround. In fact, I think we’re one of only two games at the weekend, so I think DC have got an extra day. It’s exciting to be there for two games on the trot, and also very helpful schedule-wise.”
Header photo by Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country. From file (obviously – remember seeing people in person? That was nice)