MLS

Nashville SC v Toronto: Smith refuses to rule out playoff push

By Sports Desk May 15, 2024

Nashville SC are ignoring any suggestions that an MLS playoff position is out of their reach ahead of the midweek clash with Toronto at GEODIS Park.

That was the message from the Boys in Gold head coach Gary Smith, whose side sit 13th in the Eastern Conference after their 1-0 defeat to Charlotte FC last time out.

Nashville are still only three points adrift of ninth-placed Philadelphia Union and a place in the postseason, with Smith refusing to give up hope.

"I don't believe, and nor do any of the guys in the group, that we are by any way, shape or form, out of the hunt for a playoffs position," he said. 

"A couple of results get you right back in to the mix again, and that's, of course, our challenge over the next two games."

Toronto are fourth in the East standings after their 3-2 defeat against New York City FC in their last outing.

Visiting head coach John Herdman is looking forward to facing a familiar face in Jacob Shaffelburg when his side visit, however.

"He's flying at Nashville," Herdman remarked on Monday. "I've seen some stats at the weekend about his impact on their team and how many touches he has in that opposition half and how many crosses are leading to goals. 

"I remember having him in that Gold Cup recently. He came off the bench and scored against the US. It shows where he's at now as a player."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nashville SC – Sam Surridge

Former Nottingham Forest striker Sam Surridge continues to provide the goals for Nashville this term, scoring a club-leading five in MLS this campaign.

The Englishman failed to find the target against Charlotte, but managed a hat-trick against CF Montreal in his previous outing before that.

Toronto – Prince Osei Owusu

In the absence of the in-form Federico Bernardeschi, Prince Osei Owusu will be expected to step up against Nashville.

The Toronto forward leads the club scoring charts with five goals in 12 MLS appearances this year, two ahead of any teammate in the league.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Opta's win probability has Nashville as the overwhelming favourites for this one, yet a draw may be more likely considering each team's recent form and head-to-head records.

Toronto are unbeaten in five straight meetings with Nashville (W2 D3), with the Boys in Gold the only side the Canadians have played three or more times since the start of the 2022 season and not lost against.

Nashville have also won only two of their last 16 matches against MLS opponents in all competitions (D6 L8), though 11 of the 12 points they have collected over that time have come at home (W2 D5 L3).

Smith's hosts have conceded at least once in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions, too, their longest streak in club history after opening the season with three straight clean sheets.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Nashville SC win: 55.4%

Toronto win:18.6%

Draw: 26%

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