Austin FC will be facing an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time on Sunday as the Verde & Black travel to Tennessee to face Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium. Austin will be looking to get back to winning ways against a Nashville side that is unbeaten in their second season.
Austin FC Outlook
Josh Wolff’s team are coming off a 2-0 loss at the LA Galaxy on Saturday and currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference after winning two of five road games that start the Club’s inaugural season.
US international Sebastian Lletget and Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez were the goal-scorers for the Galaxy in a match that saw ATXFC out possess the Galaxy 55% to 45%. Austin also had just one less shot than LA (16-15).
The match against Nashville should mark the return of team captain Alex Ring -- who was forced to miss the Galaxy match due to a one-match suspension. Ring leads the team in tackles and duels won, despite missing the last match. Goalkeeper Brad Stuver should also be in high spirits, coming off a penalty-kick save against Chicharito and a strong start to his season.
This match again comes on the road, as Austin start the season on an eight-game road trip before opening Q2 Stadium on June 19 vs the San Jose Earthquakes.
Nashville were one of the big surprises in MLS in 2020, finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference in their expansion season. They topped off a special season with a MLS Cup Playoff win against fellow expansion side Inter Miami CF and an upset win against Toronto FC before bowing out to the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Nashville accomplished most of that on the back of a stellar defense that conceded just 22 goals in 23 matches. Center back Walker Zimmerman was rewarded for his team’s performance as he was named MLS Defender of the Year.
The vast majority of that team returned in 2021 -- including MLS veteran Dax McCarty -- and Gary Smith’s team has remained stout defensively, conceding just four goals in five matches. But they have scored just six goals, which has resulted in just seven points (1W-4D) despite playing their first four matches at home.
They are coming off their first road match of the season, as Nashville traveled to Utah to face Real Salt Lake. The match saw few chances for either side and each walked away with a point in a scoreless draw.
Probable Nashville Lineup
(4-4-2, R-L) - GK: Joe Willis; Alistair Johnston, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Daniel Lovitz; Alex Muyl, Anibal Godoy, Dax McCarty, Randall Leal; Dominique Badji, CJ Sapong