What to Watch for as Nashville SC Travels North to Take on Toronto FCÃÂ ÃÂ
Nashville SCÂ (6W-1L-8D,Â 4thÂ in Eastern Conference)Â is headed across the border to take on Toronto FCÂ (3W-8L-4D, 11thÂ in Eastern Conference)Â on Sunday night.Â It'sÂ the first time the Boys in Gold will playÂ in Canada since joiningÂ MLSÂ in 2020.
The Boys in GoldÂ are riding a seven-match unbeaten run headed into Sunday's match and are comingÂ off ofÂ a decisive 3-0 victory over FC Cincinnati. They'll look to continue that form on the road as they begin a three-match road trip.
Here's everything you need to know about Sunday's match:
Date: Sunday, August 1
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Location: BMO Field
English Radio: ESPN 94.9
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
New-Look RedsÂ -Â The last time Nashville SC faced TorontoÂ FCÂ on June 23,Â the Boys in Gold came awayÂ with a dramatic 3-2 victory, earning the win with a Luke Haakenson goal in stoppage time. At that point,Â the Reds wereÂ in the midst ofÂ what would become a six-match losing streak thatÂ ledÂ to the dismissal of head coach Chris Armas in his first season on the job.
Since Armas was let go,Â Toronto has gone unbeaten with two wins and twoÂ draws andÂ has been able to return homeÂ toÂ play in front of their fans at BMO Field for the first time since early 2020. Head Coach Gary Smith says the Reds have plenty of talent thatÂ seem to have shaken their funk from the early season.Â
"This is as talented a group as any in MLS," Smith said. "History tells us that with as many final appearances and a championship under their belt, this group is more than capable. They've got quality in all areas of theÂ fieldÂ and it really is just a matter of time for them.Â Maybe this is a time when they're getting into a rhythm again, but our job is going to be to obviously stick a little bit of a pin in that and come out of there with some points on the board."
Terrific Trio in AttackÂ -Â Nashville SC's attacking trio of Hany Mukhtar, CJÂ SapongÂ and Randall LealÂ scored orÂ assistedÂ on all but oneÂ goal inÂ the month of July.Â The club has also added a dynamic attacker in designated playerÂ AkéÂ Loba, who Smith saysÂ has looked "absolutely stunning" in training.Â
Now the challenge becomes taking that offensive form on the road, while also balancing that form with a stout defense that delivers positive results.
"I do believe we've got as good an attacking group as we've had in the 18 months that I've been here in MLS," Smith said.Â "And to get that right balance now, the rightÂ amountÂ of minutes, sharpÂ andÂ fresh forwards, players that are looking to make a bit of a name for themselves, or to get the very best out of themselves now that there's that much more competition in that front line. But wrapped around that, of course, we've still got to make sure that we've got a good balance and a good foundation to the group. And while it's been something that we almost take for granted at times, there's no doubt about itÂ thatÂ there's a mentality and a focus needed."
Road Work AheadÂ -Â After a month with four out of five matchesÂ at home, Nashville SCÂ will hit the road for three consecutive home matches starting Sunday in Toronto.Â The first two will come thick and fast, as Nashville will travel toÂ FoxboroÂ to take on theÂ New EnglandÂ Revolution on Wednesday, just threeÂ daysÂ after playing in Toronto.Â
Defender Dave Romney says recovery and rotation will be key to earning results in both matches.Â
"Recovery is enormous," Romney said.Â "It's never easy just having those two days in between, just doing everything you can, hydrating-wise, recovery-wise, treatment-wise, rest-wise, sleep-wise to just make sure you can be as close to 100% for that Wednesday game,Â even though it's pretty near impossible.Â You'reÂ always going to startÂ kind of feelingÂ it in like the 60th minute onwards, and then just a rotation of bodies throughout the team.Â The moreÂ guys as we can get minutes on Sunday and WednesdayÂ kindÂ of switching out,Â theÂ fresherÂ we're going to be.Â We're going to look a lotÂ livelierÂ than the team we play on Wednesday."
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