Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith and winger Randall Leal met with the media Thursday. Watch or read their full comments (apologies for very rough translation of Leal’s Spanish) here:
Head coach Gary Smith
“Well, a nice weekend to watch others around us, and to have a bit of rest and mental relaxation, I think. Very good week this week in terms of work. One or two abnormalities, which tends to happen in this meat of the season – which I’m pleased to say, the guys seem to take in their stride much, much better than maybe they did in the past. All in all, the guys are in a pretty decent place as we work towards the weekend.”
What opportunities has the longer break between games presented in terms of preparation?
“The weekend off, I think, always gives me an opportunity to maybe offer the guys a tad more time to let their bodies recover, regenerate, even spend some valuable family time. I know we had two home games back-to-back very quickly on the Sunday and the Wednesday, but we’d had a pretty tough away schedule just before that. So it was a nice opportunity to give them that moment, but also to get the schedule back on-track in a normal week, and with a fresh group of players, so to speak. Physically, I think the guys were in a good spot when they came back. Very focused. I think generally, we’re in a pretty decent place. Nobody’s getting overly excitable about our position in the leagu, but we do know there are some very important games coming up, and if we can get our job done, then we could be in a good spot inside the next six or eight games.
“As far as preparation, we’ve had two games already against Atlanta. I know there’ve been one or two personnel changes: maybe players coming back from injury that weren’t around in our last game, and of course a head-coaching change. But to that degree, we’re not going to know what changes tactically within that group. I would suspect with four wins on the spin that there’ll be a lot of confidence in the group, and there’ll be some similarities from their last three or four games.”
Will Walker Zimmerman be available this weekend? Will Dax McCarty for his suspension?
“As far as Walker goes, he will be back. He’s here. In fact, he’ll be here within the next hour or two, so he’ll be in the group working tomorrow towards the weekend, and then we’ll make a judgment on where he’s at after his midweek exploits.
“Yes, you’re right about Dax. He is suspended for the game, so he’ll be unavailable.”
Midfielder Randall Leal
What have you seen from Atlanta in recent weeks?
“I think now, it’s completely different. They are very good, very sharp. The players are very motivated. So I think it’s going to be different to last time. But always, we play against them, the opportunity that we play against them, we play very good. So I think Saturday is going to be different, but you know, we have a good team, we are good, we are in a good position, so it’s just to make, to do the same: to try to get the points there and keep doing the good work that we are doing.”
The question was both in Spanish and too quiet to hear on the Zoom. Since my Spanish is rusty, the translation of Leal’s answer is approximate.
Español: “At this moment, … I believe at the same time, I don’t think a change for a ton of another game. Truly, I believe that we have to continue coming, go bit-by-bit adding ideas. We know how important it is, it’s clear all the players must show in training if they want to be in the starting XI, or whoever wants to play. I believe that we know to have caution, and take advantage of opportunities, and be ready to execute the objectives on Saturday.”
What did you think of the MLS All-Star game?
Español: “Super-well. I think more than to see that it’s a competition to enjoy, it can’t be long, MLS, the Mexican league, it was a pretty beautiful game, and interesting for us, because all the players in MLS, it’s a game we want to play in and know. The MLS team won, but it was a game that was very, very interesting.”
How important was the rest you got this week?
“I think sometimes we need this, you know? We need this because we played a lot of games in a row: like three games before the break. I think it’s very good for us to get that rest, and to be clear of the mind, to do something with the family also, and to be ready for this game.”