Major League Soccer

Nashville SC-New York City FC Preview

Gary Smith believes Nashville SC have laid the foundations for years to come with their superb 2021 campaign, which he hopes will conclude with a run deep into the MLS Cup.

Nashville may have drawn back-to-back matches, against Chicago Fire FC and Orlando City SC, yet they comfortably remain second in the Eastern Conference.

The side from Tennessee have lost fewer matches (three) than any other team in MLS in what is just their second ever campaign in the competition.

Ahead of Sunday's trip to New York City FC, Smith has put his side's achievements in perspective.

"I would love to think when we get to the end of this campaign, and we're in the postseason, I can take a little bit of a moment to reflect on the season," he said.

"Reflect on some of the terrific results, some of the development of the group. When all is said and done, this year is vitally important to what we all want to try and achieve.

"But as long as we're making positive steps, and we're improving, and the foundations that we're building on are strong, then we're moving in the right direction.

"I think sometimes we all forget that we're not much beyond an 18-month-old franchise."

New York City are seven points behind Nashville heading into the clash at Red Bull Arena after following up a 1-0 loss to New York Red Bulls with a 2-0 defeat against the Fire.

On the back of a disappointing week, City head coach Ronny Deila is targeting a first win in four games heading into the two-week break.

"It's a big challenge for us," Deila said. "It's about putting everything into the game before a deserved rest.

"We hope to have some more stability in what we're doing as we've changed the back four a lot. It's important that we start getting some more stability in the team."

New York City FC - Santiago Rodriguez

Rodriguez and Thiago Andrade provided City with a different type of threat when being introduced from the substitutes' bench an hour into the defeat to Chicago Fire. While he was unable to help his side back into the game, Rodriguez had a headed goal ruled out by VAR and may have done enough to earn just a sixth start of the season.

Nashville SC - Walker Zimmerman

Not all of Nashville's players will be able to rest up over the next two weeks, with Zimmerman one of those to have been called up for international duty. The United States defender has enjoyed another solid campaign and led the way with seven clearances against Orlando, while also winning 60 per cent of his duels.

- Nashville won the first meeting between the sides 3-1 at home on September 3. Hany Mukhtar scored two of Nashville's three goals in the win with the other coming via an own goal.

- New York City failed to score in their last home game, against the Red Bulls, but have never been held goalless in consecutive home games in the club's MLS history (excluding playoffs).

- Nashville played a goalless draw with Chicago on September 26, the sixth time they have kept a clean sheet away from home in 2021, more than any other MLS team.

- New York City's expected goals tally of 31.6 at home this season is the highest among all MLS teams. They have scored 29 home goals, a tally bettered only by Nashville (33).

- Nashville have conceded only 10 goals in 12 games away from home this season, the joint-fewest in MLS alongside Inter Miami. They also held opponents to an xG of only 11.5 while on the road, the lowest of any MLS team.

Updated October 2, 2021

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