Nashville SC has already exceeded expectation. Now can they do more?
Nashville Soccer Club has made the 2020 Audi MLS Cup. The Boys in Gold become the sixth team in the league's history to make the postseason in its inaugural season and I don't think anyone can say Gary Smith's side does not deserve to play at least one match in the playoffs.
For a team that suffered through a devastating tornado that affected the city in March, a global pandemic, a COVID-19 outbreak within the squad that forced them to miss the MLS is Back tournament, and with several injuries throughout the squad, Nashville has not lost a match at home since the restart and have been competitive in every match bar one or two.
The scrappy win over Montreal Impact on Tuesday and losses by Atlanta United and Inter Miami last night guaranteed NSC would make it to postseason play, but now, this coaching staff and these players want more. They have deservedly earned praise and recognition from neutral fans around the league, but now is there time to make a statement.
I sure was sick hearing about how great David Beckham and his team were going to be in their inaugural season and no one seemed to give Nashville a shot (the graphic above shows just that). Now, Miami will be lucky to squeak into the 10th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite bringing in two former Juventus players and spending more money on one Designated Player than Nashville spent on three combined.
Solely based on the eye test, NSC can beat several of the teams around them in the table thanks in large part to their stout defense and compact formation.
Gary Smith should be the MLS Manager of the Year for the job he has done with this Nashville SC side and with a little bit more help and consistency on the offensive end, Nashville could be fighting for top of the conference in a season or two.
Nashville is in, we know that, but can they help themselves out by finishing top six? The newcomers currently occupy sixth place (having played one game fewer than the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution) and can solidify their spot in the final series if they defeat Chicago Fire on Halloween.
We saw a potential playoff preview when NSC faced Montreal and this weekend against Chicago will be no different. It's another must-win for this new club and many fans will expect The Boys and Gold to secure all three points once again.
Onward and upward!