IMG Academy photo by Tim Sullivan/Club and Country
The preseason is upon us! Nashville SC will take on Charlotte FC in a friendly in Bradenton, Fla. this morning. What should we expect?
The game is at Noon EST from Bradenton, Fla.’s IMG Academy. As for coverage…
Not much! Aside from lineups and goal/sub updates from the Nashville SC social media accounts, there won’t really be a way to follow along live. However, those lineups can be meaningful in terms of picking through what Nashville SC plans to do on the field this Summer (see this week’s podcast for my thoughts there).
A postgame highlights package – so we can see what the goals actually looked like – from Nashville SC’s media department is expected, as well.
After the game, media will speak with head coach Gary Smith and Walker Zimmerman about the contest.
This is a team whose build, at this stage, verges on “questionable.” With a chief soccer officer who had no previous experience running a team – Zoran Krneta was an agent – nor a wealth of experience with Major League Soccer generally, that may not be a surprise. Head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez also had no experience in North American before being hired, and while that’s not the kiss of death, it’s generally preferable with the idiosyncrasies of our league to have some institutional knowledge.
It’s a club with some decent talent along the backline that’s still trying to piece together the attacking pieces. In the club’s friendly against the Grenada Men’s National team, the starting lineup was thus:
In order that’s: a rookie goalkeeper, a 32-year old trialist who plays for Charlotte Independence in USL League One, DP forward from Poland, and former Polish YNT defender (who’s still just 22), a forward who got under 500 minutes after arriving at Austin FC in the Summer last season, a winger arriving from Liga MX’s Xolos, a midfielder on loan from a La Liga 2 side, a legit kickass fullback who played for Columbus Crew last season, an undrafted rookie central midfielder, a former DCU left back, and former Atlanta United CB.
There’s still a lot of time for this team to come together, but right now, it’s a cobbled-together set of pieces. (Rookies Kyle Holcomb and Ben Bender – the No. 1 overall draft pick – scored the first two goals for the club after neither started).
Expect what you’ve come to expect from this team: the starting XI is mostly returning (Alistair Johnston the only departure), so if we see what looks like a first-choice group, that right back or RWB will be of note. Otherwise… Joe Willis in goal, Dan Lovitz left of Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney at CB, Aníbal Godoy and captain Dax McCarty in central midfield, and Randall Leal, CJ Sapong, and Hany Mukhtar in attacking positions.
Whether we see another centerback, another winger, who’s at RB… these are the questions that could be (but may not necessarily be) answered, at least at this stage of the preseason.
There’s a distinct possibility Zimmerman, Godoy, and Leal are held out after returning from international duty and only having a couple training sessions to get back into the swing with NSC (and in Leal’s case, not getting much in the way of work with Costa Rica, missing all three games with a stomach bug).
All told, we probably won’t learn much. But another step in the offseason slog toward actual games being played? I’m down.