It’s somewhat fitting that Nashville SC is traveling to a town called Bethlehem on Easter Weekend. However, don’t look too far into this coincidence, as the only Easter Egg that Nashville is hunting for this Saturday is the one that contains three points.
These won’t be an easy three points to gather, however. Their opponent, Bethlehem Steel FC, is an affiliate with MLS side Philadelphia Union. What makes this occasion a tricky fixture is that the Union can move players up and down from their main roster to the Steel, meaning its tough to prepare for any individual player and system.
The Steel are 1-1-0 so far this season, winning their opener 4-1 against the Richmond Kickers before falling 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week.
“I think we’re into the season now, as it were, and as you have rightly said, there’s no real way of knowing who will be a part of the Bethlehem group, but what I would suspect is that in a system that has developed some very decent players, their mindset is also different from the two teams we have played against, that stand alone,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.
“You’ve got what will be classed as a development group, there’s some very good players, and those young players are trying to adapt to a system and style of play that can take them to the next level to the MLS group. For that sake alone, we probably likely to see whoever plays in that group, a style of play that will reflect the first team and will give those young players a chance to step from one group to the next. There’s a common theme and a common aim in the group, although of course we have some players that have dropped down from the first team, you can expect maybe a bit more pace, bit more strength and in some cases a bit more experience. But in terms of preparing for Bethlehem, there’s going to be some trends in the group that stay the
Nashville SC are still looking for that elusive first goal of the regular season, and it hasn’t been an easy one to come by considering the stout defenses it has faced since the start of the campaign. So far, The Boys in Gold have only attempted 10 total shots, including four on target. Lebo Moloto has accounted for eight total shots, tied in the USL for the most.
Nashville has shown promise in the buildup, with an average possession of 51 percent in two games. It’s just that the play in the final third hasn’t delivered just yet, as it’s only completing 57 percent of its passes in the opponents half of the field.
“I think the chemistry and the fluidity going forward, through the midfield as well, is still coming along,” said Nashville SC midfielder Matt LaGrassa.
“I think that’s one of those things that takes time, getting people on the same pages, knowing people’s strengths and utilizing those strengths. That’s what we are working towards. Having been on an expansion club, I know that takes time. I believe it will come. I know it will.”
Prediction: 2-1 I do believe that this is the game Nashville SC breaks through and scores its first USL goal of the regular season. However, this won’t be the game Nashville SC breaks through and gets its first three points of the season.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 1 p.m. CT. You can stream the game below.