Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith implored his side to “step forward and make a difference” as they prepare to travel to strugglers FC Cincinnati.
Nashville have all but secured their playoff spot as they sit third in the Eastern Conference, though they are amid a six-game winless run in a dreadful turn of fortunes.
The visitors had played out five consecutive draws before a 1-0 defeat against Philadelphia Union and Smith urged his players to take ownership of their actions as they look to end their poor run of results.
“If you’re going to trouble their goal, if you’re going to beat those teams, you’ve got to have a few players step forward and make the difference,” Smith frustratingly implored after defeat against Philadelphia.
“At the moment, we’re far too reliant on CJ Sapong and Hany Mukhtar.
“What you know about Cincinnati is that they have a wealth of attacking talent, they’ve put all their eggs in one basket to be creative, to try and score goals and entertain their fans at home.
“That’s not always been good enough, they’ve let in goals, but I don’t expect anything other than an exceptionally tough game.”
The hosts have lost nine matches in a row, sat at the foot of the Eastern Conference on just 20 points after a 5-1 crushing by Inter Miami CF last time out.
After the crushing blow against Miami, interim head coach Tyrone Mitchell expressed his disappointment.
“The close ones are the ones that hurt the most,” Mitchell said. “Because you felt like you had opportunity.
“We were down 3, 4-1 and you know the game is out of reach so this one – it always hurts to lose games but you look back at it and say hey, this one we couldn’t do anything else.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta
Luciano Acosta will continue to play a key role going forward, having contributed seven goals and seven assists in the MLS this season.
Nashville SC – Dave Romney
Dave Romney remains the only Nashville SC outfield player to have seen all 2,790 minutes of the 2021 Nashville SC season and all 5,100 minutes of Nashville SC’s MLS history.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be Nashville’s first visit to Cincinnati in MLS play, having recorded a 3-0 win and a 2-2 draw at home against Cincinnati in the first two meetings between the sides, both this season. Cincinnati scored two goals in the first 12 minutes of the first meeting, but has been outscored, 5-0, by Nashville since.
– FC Cincinnati has lost nine straight matches, equaling the third-longest single-season losing streak in MLS history. Only the MetroStars (12 straight, including 2 breakaway shootouts) in 1999 and Real Salt Lake (10 straight) in 2005 have had longer losing runs in a single season in the history of the league.
– Nashville suffered just its fourth defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 1-0 at Philadelphia. Nashville has as many losses in its last 52 regular season matches (9) as Cincinnati has losses in a row.
– Cincinnati’s 5-1 loss to Miami on Saturday was the 19th time it lost a match by at least a three-goal margin in club history. No other team has suffered more than 13 such losses since Cincinnati joined MLS in 2019.
– Nashville is winless in six straight matches (D5 L1), the longest run without a win in the club’s MLS history. Nashville has scored a total of three goals in those matches, which followed a 5-1 win over Inter Miami on September 22.