Injuries cloud Nashville's opener vs. visiting Red Bulls

League: MLS

Posted on: 24 Feb, 2024 at 10:41 PM

Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville SC already have some serious injury concerns heading into the start of the MLS season.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls hope an exciting addition leads to success beyond the first round of the playoffs.

The Red Bulls look to remain undefeated all-time against host Nashville in Sunday's campaign opener.

League pundits don't seem keen on Nashville being a series MLS Cup contender after it limped into the 2023 playoffs on a 3-10-5 trudge. Nashville managed just 11 goals during that stretch, with star Hany Mukhtar posting two of his team-leading 15 goals during the rut.

Mukhtar returns but suffered an apparent hamstring issue in the 35th minute after scoring in Thursday's 3-0 victory over Moca FC in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. He assisted on a goal from newcomer Sam Surridge, who also left later in the match with an apparent shoulder injury.

It's uncertain if either will feature Sunday. That means Nashville's offensive production could fall on former Los Angeles Galaxy standout Tyler Boyd, who also scored Thursday.

"All three of those guys, very good footballers, they're very intelligent and they've enjoyed being around the ball in the attacking areas," Nashville coach Gary Smith said.

Veteran Teal Bunbury and exciting forward Jacob Shaffelburg could also step up for Smith if needed this weekend. However, regardless of who is in Nashville's lineup, the club needs to remain stingy after conceding 34 goals in 2023.

Nashville has been outscored 4-1 while going 0-2-2 against New York, which won 1-0 there in 2023.

The Red Bulls won four straight before falling to FC Cincinnati in the playoffs last season. However, they had no player score more than six goals in MLS play.

Enter Emil Forsberg, the Sweden international and standout at RB Leipzig, who totaled 40 goals and 42 assists in eight seasons for the Bundesliga side. Forsberg was already named captain for NYRB, who have failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs each of the last five seasons.

"I'm here to win with the guys and take us forward," Forsberg said. "That's the mentality we've got to have every day."

--Field Level Media