Rocky Mountain High pun goes here.
Opponent: Colorado Rapids (5-5-3 MLS)
Time, Location: Saturday, May 28, 8:08 p.m. CDT (7:08 local) • Commerce City, Colo.
Weather: 78ºF, 1% chance of rain, 17% humidity, 14 MPH SSW wind
Follow: MLS MatchCenter • @ClubCountryUSA • @NashvilleSC
Watch/Stream • Listen: MyTV30/NashvilleSC.com (local)/ESPN+ (national) • IHeartRadio/El Jefe 96.7 (Español)
Watch party: ML Rose 8th South
Match officials: Referee: Niima Saghafi. Assistants: Jeremy Kieso, Ian McKay. Fourth official: Elijio Arreguin. Video Assistants: Sorin Stoica, Claudiu Badea
Vegas odds: Nashville SC +324, draw +236, Colorado Rapids -109
|Stat||Nashville SC||Colorado Rapids|
|Record (W-L-D)||5-4-4 (1.46 PPG)|
|5-5-3 (1.38 PPG)|
|Recent form (most recent first)||D-W-L-W-D||W-D-W-L-L|
|xG Power||+0.72 (4th MLS)||+0.26 (10th MLS)|
|G Power||+0.13 (10th MLS)||-0.06 (17th MLS)|
|“Luck”||-0.59 (26th MLS)||-0.32 (18rd MLS)|
|Offense||+0.35 (6th MLS)||-0.05 (14th MLS)|
|Defense||-0.37 (4th MLS)||-0.31 (7th MLS)|
|Venue advantage||-0.48 Away (19th MLS)||+1.74 Home (1st MLS)|
|Injury report||OUT: F Teal Bunbury (knee), D Robert Castellanos (ankle), M Randall Leal (ankle)|
SUSP: M Alex Muyl (yellow)
|OUT: F Braian Galvan (knee), D Aboubacar Keita (knee), M Oliver Larraz (leg)|
QUEST: F Gyasi Zardes (hamstring)
SUSP: Lucas Estevez (violent conduct)
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Most of the injury/availability report does not change the outlook for the ‘Pids: Braian Galvan, Aboubacar Keita, and Oliver Larraz have yet to combine for a single minute yet this year, so while they may very well be solid players (particularly Galvan), Colorado is very accustomed to not having them available. Gyasi Zardes has played five times (four starts) since his mid-season trade… but with Diego Rubio playing the best ball on this Rapids team – and no longer on the injury report – Colorado has had to find ways to shoehorn Zardes onto the pitch (most often as a single striker, but he’s also played as part of a front two with Jonathan Lewis in Rubio’s absence or with Rubio as a 10 behind them).
One of the things that seems certain to stick around is a back three, with Danny Wilson in the middle flanked by Lalas Abubakar (right) and Auston Trusty or Keegan Rosenberry on the other side. The outside CBs are tasked with a lot of interrupting while Wilson effectively plays as a sweeper. Abubakar is the only one who’s basically no threat in attack – though that may be more about fine-tuning his shooting boots than a lack of desire, since he’s taken eight shots on the year.
Mark-Anthony Kaye and Bryan Acosta are lock starters in central midfield, with Rosenberry as the primary right wingback, and the suspended Lucas Estevez typically playing on the left. Estevez is a dude who looooves to get forward but it not hyper-effective when he gets there, so reining in Anthony Markanich to play in a defense-first posture makes sense (in limited time, he’s similar stylistically to Estevez, for what it’s worth). ASA‘s Goals Added thinks very little of Rosenberry in all phases of the game except shooting, for what it’s worth. Kaye and Acosta are both defense-first CDMs, for what it’s worth, though Acosta can progress it a bit. Kaye played as an 8 after Zardes’s injury with Jack Price slotting into that double-pivot role he abandoned. Colorado created very little last weekend during that experiment (1.66 xG at home against a Seattle team that’s really struggling at the moment), but small sample sizes, etc.
And we arrive back at the top of the formation, where Rubio has been far and away the team’s best player. He can dribble, he can create, he can shoot, and for the position he plays, he’s far from a defensive liability. Limiting his time on the ball is going to be crucial for Nashville. Former US International Jonathan Lewis – a winger who plays most of his MLS minutes as a second striker – and Michael Barrios (ibid) are the other primary attacking pieces for the Rapids.
Particularly at home, Colorado’s defense has been good but looks even better to the Goals models than the Expected Goals ones. That’s a credit to goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who’s just about average over the course of the year – but only because he plays terribly on the road (which is weird – keeper is not one position where you expect that to be the case). We’re still in small-sample-size-istan, so he’s worth testing.
All told, this is an OK Rapids team that has the pieces to be even better than that – and typically is toward the latter pole when playing at home.
Keys to the game
- Set pieces.
- Control Rubio. Wherever he pops up on the pitch, you want to make sure he’s not the guy to beat you.
- Test Yarbrough. I have a theory that he isn’t very good, and small sample sizes are misleading us here. Time to put this hypothesis to the test.
- Stars be stars. We saw it against Louisville City: Hany Mukhtar comes on and is the difference-maker. More of that, thanks.
Nashville SC 1, Colorado Rapids 2