Real Salt Lake vs. Nashville SC Prediction, Preview and Odds - 5/15/21
Nashville SC will go on the road for the first time this season when it takes on Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. It has been a solid start for Nashville, which has picked up six points in its first four matches. Real Salt Lake won its first two matches before losing to San Jose last week.
Nashville finally secures a win
Nashville SC was unable to breakthrough in its first three matches of the season, playing to draws against Cincinnati, Montreal and Miami. It secured a win and doubled its point total last week, though, notching a 2-0 win over New England. Nashville peppered the New England goalie with 16 shots, including seven on goal. C.J. Sapong scored his first goal with the club, giving the team its first lead at any point of the season. The match remained 1-0 until Alex Muyl fired a low strike into the net to make it 2-0. New England was atop the Eastern Conference standings prior to that match.
Captain Dax McCarty had tweeted that the three straight draws was “not good enough,” so it was an impressive performance for Nashville. The team has now unbeaten in its last seven MLS matches and has kept a clean sheet in five of its last seven matches. Walker Zimmerman earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week after an impressive defensive effort against New England. Nashville relies on its defense that has been able to get going after a slow start to the year. It also likes to counterattack, though, recording double-digit shots and outshooting its opponent in all four matches this season.
Real Salt Lake looks to rebound from first loss
Real Salt Lake will be looking to bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season. It opened the year with a 2-1 win over Minnesota United and followed that up with a 3-1 victory against Sporting KC. The club appeared to be poised to stay unbeaten last week, taking a 1-0 first-half lead when Rubio Rubin netted a bicycle kick. San Jose had only created two shots on target prior to subbing in the MLS all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski, who netted two goals in the final 10 minutes of the match to give the Earthquakes the win.
This is the best start to a regular season for Real Salt Lake since 2012. It lost midfielders Kyle Beckerman (retirement) and Corey Baird (departure) during the offseason, but they have been able to get by without them. Loanee Anderson Julio has provided a spark, scoring a pair of goals as a speedy option. Midfielder Damir Kreilach leads the team with three assists, filling in nicely for the retired Beckerman. Real Salt Lake has conceded three of their four goals with less than 10 minutes remaining. Marcelo Silva was replaced by Erik Holt last Friday, so he will be looking to reclaim his spot in the defense.
Side:(Real Salt Lake PK -126)
Nashville is off to a nice start in 2021, but this is still a team that is in just its second MLS season. It really struggled away from Tennessee last season, so I am not interested in backing them in their first road match of the year. Real Salt Lake has been fantastic outside of the waning minutes of matches, and I expect the coaching staff to make that an emphasis on Saturday night. Rubin is tough for any defense to contain and is always capable of netting a winner for his team. This match is all about the scheduling spot with Nashville going on the road for the first time and having to face a quality opponent.
Total (Under 2.5)
This is one of the lowest totals of the week in the MLS, but it comes with good reason. Nashville has pitched a shutout in five of its last seven league matches and does an excellent job of controlling the pace. It relies on its top-notch defense to earn points. Real Salt Lake has been a fantastic defensive team as well…for most of the match. If it is able to clean up the final 10 minutes of matches, it becomes one of the best defenses in the MLS. Nashville is playing on the road for the first time this year, so my expectations for its offense are low. Real Salt Lake could very well win this match 1-0.