FC Cincinnati-Nashville SC Preview
Jaap Stam knows he must stay patient with FC Cincinnati despite their frustrating habit of giving up leads.
Heading into Saturday's game at Nashville SC, Cincy are winless in four, yet they have led in each of the past three matches.
They were 2-0 up against the Columbus Crew and drew 2-2, then remarkably led CF Montreal 2-0 and 4-2 and were beaten 5-4.
The trend continued in slightly less spectacular fashion against struggling Atlanta United, who recovered a 1-1 draw in midweek.
Cincy also gave up a 2-0 lead to draw in their previous meeting with next opponents Nashville, but Stam remains calm.
"You know well that in soccer it's difficult to get something to say 'Okay, this is not good and tomorrow it needs to be very good and it's going to happen'," he said.
"That's not how it works because you work with human beings. You work with players that need to get into a certain mode and you play against teams with a lot of quality.
"You know you take the lead, which is very positive. Yeah, you want to keep that lead but sometimes you need to give credit to the opposition.
"We are working on keeping that lead, and that's a very important one for us to do."
Cincy's defensive lapses may offer encouragement to Nashville forward Ake Loba, who debuted in midweek to add to the team's attacking options.
Coach Gary Smith said: "I think what we've been able to do in a short period of time is offer ourselves as a team very good flexibility.
"And it goes without saying that competition in all areas is the key to form and success for any individual.
"If someone feels as though they're a shoo-in for the team and ever-present, then unless you're super-human, you can dip below the standards that you set. Competition is key for that."
Nashville SC - Ake Loba
It seems unlikely Loba, on the bench against Columbus, will be thrown in from the start, but he has already made an impact. Smith said of the club-record signing: "(We are) really, really pleased. He's very team-oriented. He dropped deep a few times to help out. He's not silly. He comes from a very high-level club (Monterrey). He's a fighter, giving as much as he can for the group."
FC Cincinnati - Luciano Acosta
Acosta has not been able to recreate the 2018 DC United form - 10 goals and 17 assists - that saw him linked with Paris Saint-Germain, but the forward is at least back contributing on a regular basis. He has three goals and two assists in his past five games. Acosta only had two assists in the entirety of 2019, his previous MLS campaign before a stint with Atlas in Mexico.
- This will be the second meeting between Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati, both coming in Nashville. Nashville came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 in this year's season opener in April.
- Nashville SC are unbeaten in their past 11 home matches (W6 D5, including playoffs) including winning five of their past seven at Nissan Stadium. Nashville had won just five of their first 15 home MLS matches (D8 L2).
- FC Cincinnati have lost just one of their past six matches (W2 D3) after a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on Wednesday. Cincinnati had avoided defeat in just three of their previous 17 matches (W2 D1).
- Nashville SC have scored 19 goals at home this season, more than any other MLS team. They have managed just two away goals this season, tied for the fewest in the league in 2021.
- Brenner has been involved in four of FC Cincinnati's past five goals (2 goals, 2 assists). He contributed to just one goal in his first 11 MLS appearances (one goal).
Updated July 23, 2021