The boys in blue are heading back out on the road again. Let’s take a look at this country music goalazo kickoff in this Philadelphia Union Preview. This is the first match of an extended road trip that will see them play two league games and one open cup game on the road in about a two-week period. After a home 1-1 draw against Montreal that felt to many like a loss, the Union will go on the road to take on Nashville SC in the first game to be played at Geodis Park.
Union Preview: Can Philly spoil Nashville’s party?
These teams faced off twice last year, with Nashville winning the regular-season matchup 1-0, while the Union took the victory in PK’s last year in the eastern conference semifinals. Let’s take a quick look at how Nashville has fared so far this season, who to look out for on their roster, and a prediction for the matchup between these two teams.
2022 MLS Season
This season has certainly been a curious one for Nashville so far. For starters, they have been moved to the western conference for this season to balance out the number of teams in each conference. To add on top of that, they have played all their games on the road so far in anticipation of playing at their brand-new soccer-specific stadium Geodis Park.
Through eight games this season, Nashville has a record of 3-3-2 for three wins, three losses, and two draws. After starting off the season on a cold streak of three losses and one draw in four games, they have bounced back to get three wins and one loss in their last four games. One consistent thing that has carried over from last season is that Nashville does not score a ton of goals and even in their wins has kept things close. Despite this, Nashville is notoriously tough to play at home.
The player that the Union should be looking out for should surprise no one who has watched a Nashville game ever. The person in question that I am referring to is none other than the prolific attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar. As Union fans will quite remember last year, Mukhtar is an absolute creative master and can hurt teams at any time. So far this season, through eight games, Mukhtar has two goals and four assists. At this point in the season, those are some solid numbers but do not let the slightly lower numbers fool you.
Mukhtar can create magic on his own and unleash an absolute goalazo. If you give him space to create, he can pick out his teammates and set up some solid chances, which is shown by the four assists he has to this point in the season. This man is still the heartbeat of this Nashville attack and now has the freedom to truly focus on the offensive game with the acquisitions that Nashville got this offseason. If the Union can limit his chances and frustrate him at times as they did in the playoff matchup, they should be able to get some solid chances. But slowing down Mukhtar is a lot easier said than done, so the Union backline will certainly have their work cut out for them.
The Union certainly left two points on the table in their draw against Montreal. The reason for this appeared to be the passing between Daniel Gazdag and the striker core. Gazdag’s passes were just a fraction off on a number of occasions and the Union left feeling like they should have put more than one goal in the back of the net. While I do not see many goals scored in this game, the team should absolutely take advantage of the chances that they will get this game as Nashville does not give up many chances.
If Gazdag can get back into form and establish a better connection with the strikers than he has had the past few games, then the Union might be able to steal some points down in Nashville. However, I do think that Nashville will absolutely come ready to show the home crowd a good time. There will be plenty of chances, but will that translate into goals? I do not believe so and it will be a low-scoring affair. I am going to with a 1-1 draw to open Geodis Park. If the team can pull a smash and grab to steal all three points, that would be fantastic, but a draw feels much more likely. The game kicks off on Sunday at 4:00 pm, you can catch it on ESPN.
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Mandatory Credit: Nashville SC via MLS Media Asset