What to Watch for as Nashville SC Hosts Inter Miami CF in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
NASHVILLE - It's playoff time in Tennessee.
Seventh-seeded Nashville SC (8W-7L-8D, 1.39 ppg) plays its first Audi MLS Cup Playoff match on Friday night against fellow 2020 Major League Soccer expansion side and 10th seed Inter Miami CF (7W-13L-3D, 1.04 ppg). The Boys in Gold will face Miami for the third time this season, having won the first meeting 1-0 and played to a scoreless draw in the second.
Here's everything you need to know about Friday's playoff match:
Date: Friday, November 20
Time: 8:00 p.m. CT
Location: Nissan Stadium
TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
English Radio: 102.5 The Game, ESPN 94.9
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
Staying Grounded - Friday's match will be historic for many reasons. It's the club's first playoff match in MLS, the club's first home playoff match in MLS and the first professional playoff match in any sport to take place at Nissan Stadium since the Titans hosted the Ravens in the 2009 AFC Divisional Round.
Captain Dax McCarty, who has played in 23 MLS Cup Playoff matches during his career, says he hopes the team can savor the moment and understand its significance while also focusing on getting the job done.
"Games like this in the playoffs, big games, important games, they don't come around as much as you think they do," McCarty said. "So we need to make sure that as a group and as a team, we're all ready to go. Because it's a tremendous opportunity to cement ourselves individually in our own careers, but also as a team that is going to make history. And so it's a really big, big pressure on our shoulders, but it's one that I think we'll all embrace as a group."
Healthy and Available - Nashville SC expects to have a few key cogs available for Friday, according to Head Coach Gary Smith. Midfielder AnÃbal Godoy, who was injured in the club's regular season finale at Orlando, was in training over the last few days. In addition, winger Randall Leal is expected back from international duty with Costa Rica in time to be a part of Friday's match.
Winger David Accam, who has been missing since September with an injury, is also back in the group, although Smith says he could need a bit more time to be match fit.
"It's nice to have David back in the group," Smith said. "He's been out a good while with a problem. But he's been involved for the last four or five days, he looks in fairly decent shape. And I think mentally as you might understand, he feels much much better about himself that he's come through this difficult period. And he might be able to offer something for us as we get into this postseason. Yes, some choices to be made, the good thing is he's available."
Not Just Happy To Be Here - Nashville defied most outside expectations by qualifying for the postseason. However, according to McCarty, those outside expectations haven't meant much to him. He has felt confident going into every match this season, and Friday will be no different.
"I'm being honest when I say I haven't once gone into a game this season looking at us as an underdog," McCarty said. "I have looked at us being on a level playing field with every single team that we've played against. And I don't think that changes when you're in the playoffs. I think that now that the season is done, we've probably gained a little bit more respect and appreciation for the way we've gone about our work throughout the league. And obviously, us being strong at home, people can look at us, however they want to look at us before this game, but the pressure that the outside world puts on us is no more than the pressure we'll put on ourselves to go and win the game."
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