Nashville SC

Nashville SC game preview 2022: Colorado Rapids

Nashville’s on a win streak. Can the Boys in Gold keep is going against a slumping Colorado Rapids side?

The essentials

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Opponent: Colorado Rapids (8-11-8 MLS)
Time, Location: Wednesday, Aug. 31, 7:38 p.m. CDT • GEODIS Park
Weather: 89ºF, 0% chance of rain, 42% humidity, negligiible wind
Follow: MLS MatchCenter • @ClubCountryUSA • @NashvilleSC
Watch/Stream • Listen: MyTV30/ (local)/ESPN+ (national) • IHeartRadio/El Jefe 96.7 (Español)
Tailgate: ML Rose 8th South, a convenient 14:20 walk from the stadium.

Match officials: Referee: Mark Allatin. Assistants: Corey Parker, Kyle Atkins. Fourth official: Silviu Petrescu. Video Assistants: Edvin Jurisevic, Eric Weisbrod

Vegas odds: Nashville SC +324, draw +236, Colorado Rapids -109

StatNashville SCColorado Rapids
Record (W-L-D)10-9-9 (1.39 PPG)
5th West
8-11-8 (1.19 PPG)
8th West
Recent form (most recent first)W-W-L-L-DL-D-L-D-W
xG Power+0.47 (5th MLS)+0.11 (10th MLS)
G Power+0.09 (10th MLS)-0.17 (19th MLS)
“Luck”-0.37 (26th MLS)-0.28 (22nd MLS)
Offense+0.18 (8th MLS)+0.16 (9th MLS)
Defense-0.29 (4th MLS)+0.05 (16th MLS)
Venue advantage-0.56 Home (26th MLS)-0.15 Away (18th MLS)
Injury reportOUT: F Teal Bunbury (thigh), F Aké Loba (trunk)OUT: D Sebastian Anderson (leg), M Braian Galván (knee), M Oliver Larraz (leg), D Aboubacar Keita (knee), M Jack Price (upper body), F Yaya Toure (knee), D Jackson Travis (core)
SUSP’D: D Gustavo Vallecilla (red card)

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Colorado Rapids

This looks like a very banged-up Rapids team, and in an absolute sense it is. But here’s what I wrote last time…

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.

May 28

So of the seven guys who are out, three of them are not contributors to the 2022 team, one way or another. Some of the others are significant, though: Jack Price is a borderline every-minute sort of guy when he’s healthy (though he’s only been healthy for about half the minutes this year), and Gustavo Vallecilla has been increasingly important as they year has gone on (though most of his time has been with the Rapids’s MLS Next Pro team, as he’s bounced back and forth all year – which seems counter to the new affiliate loan rules, but clearly there’s an exception I’m missing here).

The Rapids have been a little more tactically flexible in recent weeks than they were last time I previewed them: they’re over 50% operating out of a back-four with occasional shifts to a back-five, whereas back then they were almost exclusively odd in the backline. Given that they’re down a CB who has started three of the past five (albeit listed at wingback in the game against Philly when he was sent off, the passing chart looks more like LCB), have to think it’s back-four city. That probably means Lalas Abubakar and Danny Wilson, since they’re the guys who are, you know, available. Abubakar is an elite interruptor who’s sorta meh in all other respects, whereas Wilson’s stats are sorta dragged in various directions by playing sweeper in a back-five much of the year. He looks like a poor interruptor and elite passer, but in a back-four both of those aspects are probably pushed back toward the middle. Keegan Rosenberry is basically a lock to play on the right, while Steve Beitashour and Lucas Esteves have been in a rotation on the left. ASA‘s Goals Added implies Rosenberry stinks in basically all respects, with both RB options both liabilities on the ball and solid-not-special in defense.

Mark-Anthony Kaye has been sold since the last time Nashville SC faced the Rapids, and with Price (more of an 8, but drawn into service regularly as a member of a double-pivot) unavailable, the central midfield is up in the air. I’m guessing either a conservative three-man midfield with Felipe Gutiérrez in the center, or as a double-pivot with Bryan Acosta (who was suspended for the blowout loss in Philly, for what it’s worth) next to him. Collen Warner has under 1000 minutes on the season, but has ben an every-game guy in recent weeks, and would be the third member of a conservative midfield posture, or allow one of the other two to be more free-ranging in a 4-2-3-1. He’s certainly the most defensive of the bunch. It’s not an impressive group overall, though.

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.

May 28

Former US International Gyasi Zardes was out with injury last time these teams played, in casee you were wondering why he didn’t get so much as a mention in the “here are the attacking pieces” blurb. It would not surprise me to see the three-man midfield and then any combination of three of those four guys in either a Lewis/Barrios No. 10 and Zardes/Rubin strike duo, or a single striker with both Barrios and Lewis underneath.

Last time these teams played, William Yarbrough was having a near-elite season. His falling apart has played a major role in the Rapids going from Quite Good to Basically Terrible over the past three months. He’s now allowing 126% of xG against, which is only a touch worse than Joe Willis, sure, but given where he’s coming from (he was at 103% last preview), the trend is hard downward. And Nashville SC started that, to be fair, scoring three goals on 2.26 xG for (a big post-shot number on the road, for what’s it’s worth).

Nashville SC

We’re at a stage in the season where winning a game like this doesn’t seal Nashville’s position ahead of Colorado in the table… but it all-but ensures the Boys in Gold will finish ahead (NSC actually can’t start locking up positions ahead of any team until this weekend, even with a win tonight). Winning against a Colorado team that has every reason to give up at the first sign of adversity is going to be a massive priority.

It’s also something that NSC has positioned itself well to do: Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore got a full outing’s rest on Saturday, and CJ Sapong didn’t even make the trip to Canada. That’s a team that earned a massive result without having to stress legs too much (Randall Leal and Hany Mukhtar got just 65 minutes apiece, as well). It doesn’t quite need to be an all-hands on-deck scenario this evening, but a best-available lineup to earn the result is expected.

Projected lineups

Keys to the game

  • Set pieces. Duh
  • Control Rubio. Wherever he pops up on the pitch, you want to make sure he’s not the guy to beat you.
  • Test Yarbrough. Last time around I wrote this: “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.” I am basically a genius.
  • Win in the air and dominate . Robin Fraser has his team playing like a poor man’s version of Nashville SC. If you can control the 50/50 balls, you dominate possession and chances, and prevent transition opportunities. That’s… basically the only way Colorado’s going to win (aside from the great equalizer on set pieces).


Nashville SC 3, Colorado Rapids 1

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