Gary Smith has warned San Jose Earthquakes that his Nashville SC side are “fully rejuvenated” for Saturday’s game following a two-week break.
Nashville played eight games in 28 days last month, culminating in a 3-1 win at Colorado Rapids on May 28 that places them sixth in the Western Conference after 14 matches.
The team from Tennessee now go again with a run of potentially crucial fixtures, beginning with this weekend’s visit of San Jose to the recently opened Geodis Park.
“Those eight games in 28 days took a little bit of a toll both physically and emotionally on the players,” Smith said.
“We finished off on a great note and went into a few days of rest and recovery.
“The guys are fully rejuvenated and looking forward to a very different look to the next stage of the schedule with three out of the next four league games at home.
“It gives us an opportunity to get on the front foot and take advantage of these home games.”
The Quakes will themselves be grateful to have had an opportunity to rest up since their 3-2 reverse at the hands of Los Angeles FC a fortnight ago.
That was San Jose’s second loss in a row in all competitions and leaves them 13th in the West, eight points worse off than their next opponents.
Eleven of the 14 points they have picked up this term have come since Alex Covelo replaced Matias Almeyda in April, but Nashville are unbeaten in four at their new ground and a tough test awaits.
“We know that Nashville are at home and their new stadium, and the form that they’re in,” Quakes striker Jeremy Ebobisse said.
“We’ll hope to beat a very challenging team, so we’ve got to be firing on all cylinders.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nashville SC – Hany Mukhtar
Of the 18 goals Nashville have netted in MLS this season, 14 of them have either been scored or assisted by Mukhtar or C.J. Sapong. Mukhtar registered two goals in the 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids last time out and now has six for the season, leaving him on course to match last term’s impressive tally of 19.
San Jose Earthquakes – Jeremy Ebobisse
Ebobisse will perhaps feel he has a point to prove given that he is not part of the United States’ roster for their June fixtures. The 25-year-old has scored nine goals in 14 MLS games this season, making him the division’s joint-leading goalscorer along with FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the second meeting between Nashville SC and San Jose, with the sides drawing 2-2 in San Jose on April 16. Ebobisse and Hany Mukhtar each scored twice in the game, with each Ebobisse goal canceling out a go-ahead strike by Mukhtar.
– Nashville are unbeaten in 23 straight home matches (including playoffs), the longest active streak in MLS. There have been only five longer home unbeaten runs in league history, with Nashville able to match the most recent one, a 24-game streak by Sporting Kansas City in 2016-17, with a result in this match.
– The Earthquakes have lost eight of their last 10 away matches (W1 D1) dating back to last October. The Quakes have conceded at least three goals in seven of those games, including the last four straight.
– Mukhtar (four), and Sapong (two) have combined to score Nashville’s last six MLS goals. At least one of the two has been involved in 14 of Nashville’s 18 goals this season.
– Ebobisse scored both of San Jose’s goals in their 3-2 loss to LAFC in their last match, his fourth multi-goal game already this season. Only Chris Wondolowski (six in 2012) has had more multi-goal games in a single season for the Quakes.