Nashville SC thriving of late, but face first-place Inter Miami

League: MLS

Posted on: 29 Jun, 2024 at 01:11 AM

Credit: Kindell Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

A midseason coaching change has paid instant dividends for Nashville SC.

Going into its home match Saturday night with Inter Miami FC, Nashville (6-5-8, 26 points) is 3-1-3 since appointing Rumba Munthali to replace Gary Smith. The club has shot up the table to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Nashville SC's latest success came on June 22 when they blanked New York City FC 1-0 at home, getting a goal in the 23rd minute via Sam Surridge's cross onto the head of Tyler Boyd. It was Boyd's first goal of the season but not his first impact on a win; he drew the assist on Surridge's winning goal in the team's previous match June 19 against Toronto.

"I think Tyler from start to finish, since he's gotten here, has been someone who affects the game positively," Munthali said. "He's somebody who's dangerous and is very dynamic and hard to cover ... the more he gets to play, he'll become even more and more effective."

Nashville's recent surge has been driven by goal prevention. It's conceded just four times under Munthali with three clean sheets. Goalie Joe Willis didn't have to make even one save in the win over New York City FC.

He figures to be tested more often by Miami (12-3-5, 41 points), even if superstar Lionel Messi is absent since he's playing for Argentina in Copa America. Miami sits in first place in the East and leads MLS in scoring with 46 goals.

Miami is coming off a 2-1 win on June 19 against Columbus, getting early tallies from Ian Fray and Leonardo Campana to grab a two-goal lead in the 21st minute. Miami is 9-1-2 in its past 12 matches, losing only at home to Atlanta.

Included in that stretch was a 2-1 decision at Philadelphia on June 15 that saw Miami notch the winning goal four minutes into stoppage time while down two men.

"It was a statement win," said forward Leo Afonso, who got the winning marker in Philadelphia.

The teams have met 13 times, with Miami having a 5-4-4 mark, including its 3-1 home win April 20.

--Field Level Media