Nashville SC

Nashville SC game preview 2023: Inter Miami CF

Expansion siblings meet again… for the first of two times in seven days. Nashville has had the upper hand in this rivalry, and Miami is in a down phase. The Boys in Gold will see this as a must-win.

The essentials

Opponent: Inter Miami (5-6-0)
Time, Location: Wednesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m. CDT • GEODIS Park
Weather: 78ºF, 1% chance of rain, 47% humidity, 6 mph NE wind
Follow: MLS MatchCenter • @ClubCountryUSA • @NashvilleSC
Watch/Stream • Listen: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV ($) • 104.5 The Zone

Match officials: Referee: Alex Chilowicz, Assistants: Nick Urangam Peter Balciunas. Fourth: Matthew Nelson. Video Assistants: David Barrie, Anya Voigt.

Vegas Odds: Nashville SC -172, Draw +301, Inter Miami +476

Etc.: Rate, review, subscribe. Gary Smith and Aníbal Godoy presser.

Stat Nashville SCInter Miami CF
Record (W-L-D)5-3-4 (1.58 PPG)
3rd East
5-6-0 (1.36 PPG)
6th East
Recent form (most recent first)D-W-W-D-LW-W-W-L-L
xG Power+0.18 (10th MLS)-0.79 (29th MLS)
G Power+0.44 (5th MLS)-0.04 (18th MLS)
“Luck”+0.25 (8th MLS)+0.74 (1st MLS)
Offense-0.27 (23rd MLS)-0.53 (28th MLS)
Defense-0.46 (3rd MLS)+0.25 (22nd MLS)
Venue advantage+0.06 Home (14th MLS)+1.32 Away (2nd MLS)
Injury reportOUT: D Nick DePuy (leg, season)
QUEST.: D Walker Zimmerman (groin)
OUT: M Gregore (lisfranc injury, season), M Jean Mota (knee), W Rodolfo Pizarro (hamstring)
QUEST.: D Ian Fray (knee), D Sergii Kryvstov (calf), F Robbie Robinson (calf)
SUSP.: M David Ruiz (red card)

Inter Miami

As I so often do, I’ll start with the injury list. Unclear whether that’s just because it’s the thing immediately before I start the prose preview, but whatever. The loss of Gregore is big, since he was perhaps the team’s single most important player last season, but he’s been out since the third game of the year, so the team has adapted. Problematically, Jean Mota is the only guy giving him competition as the top of the Goals Added table, and Mota is out this week. Rodolfo Pizarro is back after spending last calendar year on loan at Monterrey, but he has been borderline aggressively bad as an MLS player. He still plays a bunch, so at the very least that’s diminished depth. Ian Fray and Robbie Robinson have not played this year. Kryvstov has played the majority of the minutes but as been bad at CB. Ruiz is mostly a reserve player.

Whew. Regardless of how important some of those players are, that’s a hefty injury report. Miami has just a few players coming up positive in ASA‘s Goals Added, and with three of them out, that leaves fullback Franco Negri, striker Shanyder Borgelin (under 200 minutes), fullback Noah Allen (under 30 minutes), and CB Kamal Miller as the guys who are above average. Since the only two who ever play are on the backline, let’s start there.

Negri is a non-interruptor whose G+ comes mostly from being a dribbly/shooty guy. Miller has mostly been the same guy throughout his time in MLS (aside from his 2022 with Montreal, a major outlier in his profile): a liability in the final third, but a very good defensive CB. His passing is negative this year for the first time since 2019, so he could be due for a bounceback in that regard, or maybe the IMCF system is particularly rough on him? I dunno. Either way, they play on the left together and Miller is typically paired with Kryvstov, so McVey – a good defender but awful on the ball – seems like the Miller partner. There’s been an occasional switch-up to a back three – you’d see Kryvstov in the middle with Chris McVey or Ryan Sailor or even DeAndre Yedlin at RCB – but given the potential for a sub-100% Kryvstov, something that’s mostly been used as a “OK we are rotating a bit today, lads” move does not seem likely. Yedlin is the right back, and he’s the same guy you know and do not love from the USMNT: very fast, but just an OK one-v-one defender, and fairly poor with the final ball when he gets up the field.

Behind them, Drake Callender is a decent goalkeeper, allowing just 93% of xG faced to be converted. On a team with this profile, that’s a strong link, to say the least (and with three of their five wins coming by a one-goal margin, that performance has approximated two points saved so far this year).

With Mota, Gregore, and Ruiz all out, it’s unclear who will be Dixon Arroyo’s midfield partner, and there’s a non-zero chance that Miami may have to get funky with formations just because there’s no CM depth. I guess Victor Ulloa is an option there, but he has just five league appearances this season, with most of those cameos with single-digit minutes played. He’s negative in all six G+ breakout categories and has never had a positive overall season in the ASA dataset, so… not ideal. For his part, Arroyo is bad at dribbling and passing, and close to a non-entity in interrupting. I think we’ve found one of the weak points of this team!

In attack, an old friend leads the team in shots, xG, and goals (albeit one of his three tallies coming from the penalty spot, and without that hit he doesn’t lead the team in xG either) in Josef Martinez. Borgelin, who I noted above has played under 200 minutes, is third on the team in xG. This is not a prolific attack, to say the least. Josef has been paired with or subbed in to replace Leo Campana at the striker position, and even though he’s played more minutes over the course of the season, Campana has been a clear top choice in recent weeks. He’s far more conservative with crazy attempts, accumulating slightly more (non-penalty) xG than Martinez on only 3/4 of the shot volume.

Nicolás Stefanelli and Corentin Jean have been largely in charge of providing the service as wingers in a 4-2-3-1 or the No. 10 at times, depending on the needs of the team and formation at a given time (Pizarro is the usual 10 and also trades with Stefanelli on a wing, but his absence tonight renders that irrelevant). They have yet to record an assist on just under 1 xG between them, and that leaves the left back Negri (particularly in the absences of Gregore and Mota) to provide something, anything for one of the worst attacks in the league. His 10 key passes have resulted in 1.13 xA and one assist, first and tied for second (and with Mota out, it’s a many-way tie with one assist on the year atop the leaderboard), respectively. It’s a rough attack.

I noted the formational fluidity at the top (and the lack of central midfielders’ potential to force Miami into something unconventional), but the overall tactical identity of this team is a 4-2-3-1 with the FBs pushing high to create a lot of the chances. If they had a better player than Pizarro – and it’s worth noting they don’t even have him tonight – it just might work to generate a bunch of chances. But as they’ve been performing, neither the offense nor defense has benefitted on any sort of replicable scale. The big fear is that Josef defies replicability, of course.

Keys to the game

  • Have no fear. You don’t want to take any opponent lightly, but this is a bad team. They should be treated as such, especially with Nashville SC on home turf. A fairly aggressive, progressive gameplan is possible because this team is uniquely ill-suited to make you pay for taking a risk here and there.
  • Punish them for getting forward. The flipside of the above is that this is a team that sorta stinks but doesn’t realize it, so Miami will push numbers into attack to try to generate looks for a mediocre scoring unit. Even playing at home, there may well be chances for Nashville to send Jacob Shaffelburg, Fafa Picault, Teal Bunbury, et al into space.
  • Get Hany on the ball to dribble the central midfielders. Unless Phil Neville just crams bodies into the midfield because he knows the top couple options on the depth chart (thanks to injury and suspension) need all sorts of help, this should be the area easiest to expose. The available guys are bad in attack, but more importantly, they’re non-entities in interrupting, as well.
  • Work into strong shooting positions. Nashville has historically been a team that’s too prone to pass up the good shot looking for the perfect one – with some exceptions, of course – but against this Miami team, there should be chances to benefit from doing just that. Callender is one of the few good performers on this team, and golden chances against him are better than decent ones – with the weakness of the Miami midfield and backline meaning that there should be a high volume of opportunities even if Nashville spoils one or two getting greedy.
  • Set pieces. Ever has it been, ever shall it be.


Nashville SC 3, Inter Miami 1

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