What to Watch for as Nashville SC Faces Toronto FC in Eastern Conference Quarterfinal
NASHVILLE - (#7) Nashville SC's journey in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs rolls on with a Tuesday night Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup against (#2) Toronto FC.
The winner will move on to face Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Nashville is coming off of a decisive 3-0 win over Inter Miami CF in the Play-In Round on Friday night. Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar and Dax McCarty all found the back of the net in a dominant performance.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides. The Boys in Gold were originally supposed to travel to face Toronto in its third match of the regular season on March 14, but the league was put on pause due to COVID-19 just days before the match.
Date: Tuesday, November 24
Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: Rentschler Field (East Hartford, Conn.)
TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes
Stream: FoxSports.com, Fox Sports App
English Radio: ESPN 94.9
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
Runnin' From the Six - Tuesday's match will take place at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., Toronto's home away from home for the 2020 season due to Canadian COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Head Coach Gary Smith says that while the relocation has been a challenge for Toronto, he's been impressed with how they've performed this season.
"They've had their difficulties in making their new home in Hartford," Smith said. "I can't imagine it's been great for any of those Canadian teams, but they've done a terrific job. Their season probably didn't end the way they wanted it to, but let's be honest: if you're fighting for the Supporters' Shield on the last day, you're not doing a bad job. This group, at full strength, I think are as good as it gets. They'll be no easy task."
Canadian "Homecoming" - Nashville SC defender Alistair Johnston grew up in Aurora, Ontario, a town in the Greater Toronto Area that sits 34 miles from Toronto FC's home at BMO Field.
While Tuesday's match won't quite be a homecoming for the Canadian international, Johnston says he's excited to play the team he grew up watching.
"I've been in Toronto since the birth of that club, so I've seen how it's kind of changed the city and how the city has grown around it and how the fan support has grown," Johnston said. "I think it's something that can happen here in Nashville, too. We've already begun to see the beginning stages of that. So it's pretty cool to be able to play against the team I grew watching."
Turning Heads - Nashville's 3-0 win over Inter Miami on Friday night put the club in the national spotlight, as plenty of soccer pundits and fans saw what the club has been building towards all season long.
Smith says the win could be seen as a statement, but more importantly it can serve as the standard-setter as these MLS Cup Playoffs roll and as the club grows over the coming years.
"I think any victory in the playoffs and in the position we're in is a nice statement," Smith said. "Whether that resonates with people around the country or elsewhere, opinions will always differ. But for us, I think it's a step in the right direction. It's a lift for the group. It's a very nice benchmark for the organization, and I think as we move forward it's something we can draw on."
Nashville SC faces Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday, November 24. Catch the match on Fox Sports 1, and locally on ESPN 94.9 and El Jefe for Spanish radio.
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