Nashville SC Knows What's at Stake Tuesday Night against Louisville City FC
NASHVILLE - Nashville SC has an important task at hand on Tuesday night - to keep destiny in its own hands.
In the past month, the Eastern Conference has been absolute chaos. Underdogs have brought down top contenders, former first-place sides have stumbled, and playoff hopefuls have battled to stay alive. Nashville has braved the storm and managed to go unbeaten in its last three matches. The team has a unique advantage heading into the final weeks of the regular season with all three remaining matches to be played at home in Music City.
Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith has confidence that his team can put a product out on the field Tuesday night that can get the job done against a team that has been difficult for NSC to manage in the past.
"We've had a good window of time here to get ready, and we'll continue to get ready for Louisville," said Smith. "What we know now is that if we can do our job, and we finish the season off well, it would take something pretty strange for us not to finish in at least second. We've still got lots to fight for, but the lads should be inspired, they look inspired and they'll certainly be ready come Tuesday."
Like Nashville, Louisville has been in good form as of late. The team is riding a 10-match unbeaten streak and has defeated several top teams in the last few weeks including a 5-3 victory over New York Red Bulls II on Sept. 21. The two-time league champions showed no sign of slowing down in Week 31 and blanked Saint Louis FC 1-0 on the road. It's undeniable that results of that caliber provide Louisville's players with the trait that is invaluable while on the pitch - confidence. However, Smith is optimistic that home-field advantage combined with ample preparation will make for an exciting performance for the Boys in Gold.
"I've said it before, it gives a team something that no coach can, and that is confidence, inner confidence, belief," he continued. "They're in that groove, they're riding that momentum. They've got two local derbies in the space of four days, which won't be easy. We'll be waiting for them, we'll be ready for them, and we know full well that if we can beat them, then we continue to hold destiny in our hands."
The stakes are high tomorrow night for several reasons. Not only has the Nashville SC/Louisville City FC matchup become one of the most heated rivalries in the USL Championship, each team is fighting for playoff position and are running out of time. The top of the table is so tight that one unfavorable result could become the nail in the coffin for any given team. Both teams have clinched a playoff spot, but are still on the hunt for a first-place finish or at least home-field advantage for the first round of playoffs. The current state of the Eastern Conference is unprecedented, and Smith knows that Nashville has a special opportunity at its feet.
"It's always nice to be in that spot, certainly over the last month or two we've looked at [Indy] having games in hand, Pittsburgh having those games, constantly questioning whether or not they'll take advantage of that," he said. "As soon as we drop points, there's a concern that they can obviously run away with the more profiled positions in the league. We're now equal on games. In fact, when we take to the field on Tuesday, we'll have a game in hand on those teams and we'll probably have a much clearer picture of what needs to be achieved. But at this moment in time, it really is about winning all three games, being ready for Tuesday against an in-form Louisville side. I've had plenty of time to watch them, I know them inside-out anyways, and we'll see them [play] on Saturday, but that will be a great game come Tuesday."
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