Nashville SC

Nashville SC game preview 2022: Los Angeles Galaxy

Nashville SC was hit with a late loser in Carson. With the Boys in Gold on a hot streak, can they exact some revenge at home?

The essentials

Opponent: Los Angeles Galaxy (11-11-6)
Time, Location: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2:30 p.m. CDT • GEODIS Park
Weather: 74ºF, 19% chance of rain, 77% humidity, 8 mph Easterly wind
Follow: MLS MatchCenter • @ClubCountryUSA • @NashvilleSC
Watch/Stream • Listen: Univision/TUDN (broadcast)/Twitter • IHeartRadio/El Jefe 96.7 (Español)
Tailgate: God knows where. Parking lots reserved for the Fair, something that surely was done in good faith.

Referee: Chris Penso Assistants: CJ Morgante, Jeremy Hanson Fourth Official: Matthew Thompson Video Assistants: Tim Ford, Jonathan Johnson

Vegas Odds: Nashville SC -120, Draw +288, LA Galaxy +292

StatNashville SCLA Galaxy
Record (W-L-D)12-9-9 (1.50 PPG)
4th West
11-11-6 (1.39 PPG)
8th West
Recent form (most recent first)W-WW-W-LD-D-W-D-W
GF/Game1.601.64
GA/Game1.231.50
xG Power+0.49 (5th MLS)+0.22 (8th MLS)
G Power+0.23 (6th MLS)+0.15 (9th MLS)
“Luck”-0.27 (24th MLS)-0.06 (15th MLS)
Offense+0.18 (8th MLS)+0.21 (6th MLS)
Defense-0.31 (3rd MLS)+0.00 (14th MLS)
Venue advantage-0.54 Home (26th MLS)+0.24 Away (7th MLS)
Injury reportAin’t nobodyOUT: M Jonathan Perez (knee), D Jorge Villafaña (knee, season)

Los Angeles Galaxy

From last time around:

The star of the show is Chicharito, of course, the former Mexico International whose absence from El Trí has only served to to somehow make him even more popular (also if Tata Martino were a better-than-replacement coach, The Little Pea would be playing with the national team anyway). He scored in the Galaxy’s return from the Covid break in 2021 – his third game in LA – and then… just once the rest of the season as LA missed the playoffs. Change in coaches (enter Greg Vanney), change in volume of offseason Instagram training sessions, and he came out last year boots blazing: five goals in his first two games as he led the Galaxy to a pair of impressive wins and 10 goals through the first 10 games of the year and a 7-3-0 record. He missed nearly three months with a calf injury, and the Galacticos didn’t win seven more games ALL YEAR. So as Chicharito goes, the team goes.

April 23

Dejan Joveljic – the player who scored the dagger against NSC – made his return after four games away from the starting lineup last weekend against Sporting KC. He played as a left winger, even though he’s a striker, and even when Chicharito has had a complement up top, it’s more frequently been Kevin Cabral this year (Victor Vázquez has been the guy when it’s more a 4-4-1-1 with a creator behing Chicharito). Here’s what I said about the other attacking players last time around:

Wingers Kevin Cabral and Efraín Alvarez and central midfielder Rayan Raveloson are the other xG producers on the team so far, though only Alvarez has scored – and just a single goal, compared to five goals on 3.53 xG for The Little Pea. Interestingly, the two leading xA players are wingers, but different wingers – DP Douglas Costa and Samuel Grandsir. Part of that is because of LA’s flexibility between a two-striker-ish take on the 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 principles: Alvarez or Vázquez typically playing off Chicharito, whose best skill for years has been laying off to another attacker and then perfectly timing and angling his run to get the return pass in space in the box.

April 23

The big signing for the Galaxy – perhaps the biggest signing in the entire league during the summer window – was Barcelona homegrown Riqui Puig. The Catalán midfielder has drawn highlight-reel attention with a few laser-guided throughballs… but through four appearances his overall effect on the team is hard to suss out. The Galaxy’s results have been high-scoring draws against three pretty bad teams, so as a holding midfielder the defensive side of the ball has perhaps not been improved with his presence.

Of course, defense has long been an issue for the Galaxy. It’s gotten better since last I previewed this team, but given the budget available and the talent at their disposal… it hasn’t been super-great. Puig has paired with a fellow summer signing – Uruguayan Gaston Brugman – and as noted previously, it has not been a game-changer. A least not for the better.

…a backline of, from left to right, Kelvin Leerdam, Nick DePuy (Derrick Williams replacing him due to injury in the past couple games), Sega Coulibaly, and Julián Araujo (like Alvarez, a former US Youth International who has pledged his future to El Trí).

Leerdam has been mostly-anonymous (odd: he was an elite fullback for the Sounders just a couple years back), but Delgado has developed as an elite destroyer at the MLS level, going sideline-to-sideline to break up plays. He’s also a safe passer, though he doesn’t get involved in the final third a ton.

Among the true defenders, Edwards is having a nice year largely in the attack, while DePuy is having a big year in the defensive parts of defending. Williams is an adequate if unexciting stand-in for him. ASA‘s Goals Added thinks Coulibaly is doing a very poor job interrupting (which at-best means his style of defending is more about denying space and angles than actively making tackles and interceptions). Araujo is doing borderline horribly (again, per G+) in basically everything except interrupting: this is a defense that very much has its go-getters and its steady overseers, and those guys know their roles.

April 23

Leerdam has been planted to the bench in favor of Raheem Edwards, not seeing the field even when Edwards was unavailable (Chase Gasper entered instead). Araujo’s statistical profile is disturbingly similar to what it was like earlier in the season (odd, given that hadn’t been his career to date).

And in net…

Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond is bang-average at the back: six goals conceded on 6.00 xG faced. That’s low trials (which is a testament to the LAG backline of never really making him face a test), so let’s look at last year, when he faced a ton of rubber as the full-time starter… 105% of xG conceded, barely below average. He’s going to be a guy who makes the saves you expect, and sometimes lets in a goal: y’know, a goalkeeper.

April 23

Bond’s still played every minute for the Galaxy, but his form has devolved: he’s now allowing 122% of xG faced to be converted.

So the Galaxy appears to be about the same as in April. Now, though, the pressure of making the playoff field – with two games in-hand on Nashville, a win today would give LAG a really good shot to make the pass come Decision Day, whereas a loss or draw makes for a tough path into the playoff field.

The Boys in Gold

Got no time. You know this team.

Projected lineups

Keys to the game

  • Set pieces. Obvs
  • Keep an eye on Chicharito. Ever heard of him?
  • Build from the right. Araujo has basically decided to forgo any sort of attacking stuff in the name of defending (this is wise! it’s working!), but that puts a lot of onus on Edwards to get forward to provide some width for a Galaxy attack that has a bunch of dudes who consider themselves shooters first, shooters second, second strikers third, and maybe a traditional winger somewhere in there. Getting attackers into space behind Edwards could pay some dividends here. Since I have Randall Leal coming off the bench, some late-game legs could really make an impact.
  • Control central lanes. Puig has not been good defensively, and he’s actually been so-so attacking-wise, despite the headlines. The one thing he truly can do is tear you open through the middle if there’s a channel. So don’t let there be one.

Prediction

Nashville SC 2, LA Galaxy 2

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