Defense will be key when Minnesota United hosts Nashville SC

Nov 28, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Nashville SC goalkeeper Joe Willis (1) clears the ball against the Philadelphia Union in the conference semifinals of the 2021 MLS playoffs at Subaru Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Nashville SC goalkeeper Joe Willis (1) clears the ball against the Philadelphia Union in the conference semifinals of the 2021 MLS playoffs at Subaru Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United will try to crack Nashville SC’s tight defense when the Loons host Nashville on Saturday in Saint Paul, Minn.

Nashville SC’s season opener saw the club deliver yet another strong defensive effort on the road, as Nashville collected a 1-0 win at the Seattle Sounders last Sunday. Anibal Godoy scored the game-winning goal in the 80th minute.

Over the 58 regular-season games in their brief franchise history, Nashville SC (1-0-0, 3 points) has allowed only 55 goals. Goalkeeper Joe Willis has 23 shutouts since the start of the 2020 season.

“They don’t beat themselves very often, and that’s a good trait to have, especially on the road,” Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath said of Nashville. “They have a really good defensive unit, good defensive shape. … You’re going to have to be fully concentrated on both ends of the field.”

Minnesota United’s attack looked to be in solid shape in the club’s first game, a 1-1 road draw against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. While the Loons (0-0-1, 1 point) were outshot 19-14, Minnesota did hold a 6-5 edge in shots on target.

Playing in their home opener, the Loons will try to continue their own strong defensive form from the 2021 season. Minnesota allowed only 14 goals in 17 home games last season, tied for the fewest in the Western Conference.

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith noted that Minnesota United “…replicated an awful lot of things that we do, and how we go about our business… (They are) physically dominant in certain areas, and they’ve also got some very crafty players that are capable of changing the course of any game.”

“When you look at the shape of their group, there were many clips of Minnesota at the weekend that replicated an awful lot of things that we do and how we go about our business,” Smith said. “They’re physically dominant in certain areas, and they’ve also got some very crafty players that are capable of changing the course of any game.”

Minnesota managed its draw with the Union despite missing some key players with injury. Wil Trapp (hip) is expected to return for Saturday’s game, while Chase Gasper (concussion), Abu Danladi (thigh), and Romain Metanire (leg) are all questionable. Kervin Arriaga started against Philadelphia but won’t play against Nashville due to a muscle injury.

Nashville SC is beginning the season with eight consecutive road games before their new stadium opens on May 1.

–Field Level Media

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