Toronto FC vs. Nashville SC Prediction, Preview and Odds - 8/1/21
Toronto FC plays host to Nashville SC on Sunday night from BMO Field in Toronto, Canada in a crucial Eastern Conference tilt. These two teams have already faced off once this year, back in June, with Nashville coming out on top by the score of 3-2. It took two goals in the last ten minutes from the home side in Nashville that day, to come away with the win, including a 92nd-minute strike. Toronto will be looking for revenge in the rematch, especially now being the home team. Toronto has had a rough year but has slowly grown into their stride, now sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, still 13 points behind Nashville, who is in fourth place. Expect both teams to try to start fast, especially considering what’s at stake for Toronto to try to sneak into the playoffs and for Nashville to continue to move up in the standings.
Toronto Eyes Revenge
Toronto started the season slow and the Nashville game in June took quite a bit of the wind out of their sails, but July saw the team pick up the pace quite a bit once they were able to return to Canada. In the last four games, they’re unbeaten, grabbing two wins and two draws, with both the draws coming at home. Even with the strong run of play, they still sit on only 13 points in 15 games, in addition to a minus-12 goal differential. Having lost in such a heartbreaking fashion to Nashville on the road just a little over a month ago, will surely see Toronto come in looking to flip the script and grab all three points. Toronto can’t afford to drop points down the stretch towards the fall and a home game north of the border is the perfect opportunity for them to keep their unbeaten streak going strong.
The good news for Toronto as compared to some of their peers in the league is the injury and international availability of their squad. According to the league’s availability report, Ayo Akinola and Ifunanyachi Achara are both out for the rest of the season due to ACL injuries, with Akinola being a big miss down the stretch. Quentin Westberg (hand) and Auro (lower body), are both questionable to go on Sunday night, with Auro being the biggest miss from an attacking standpoint. While Canada’s loss to Mexico in Thursday’s Gold Cup semifinal was heartbreaking for the country, the good news or Toronto FC is that they’ll bring back some friendly faces, especially in Richie Laryea, though it remains to be seen of those players returning from Gold Cup action will play from a health and fitness standpoint.
Akinola co-leads the team with three goals, and will be missed, while Auro has two assists to his name too. The injuries to some key contributors though shouldn’t hurt a surging Toronto side, especially with Jonathan Osorio scoring three goals himself. The lineup is filled with experience, which can be crucial in big weekend games like Sunday’s against Nashville, and it’ll be interesting to see how players like Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley come out and play. The defense has been feeling confident without a doubt though. Between Alex Bono manning the net, and then the experience with Eriq Zavaleta and Omar Gonzalez, with the tenacity of a player like Kemar Lawrence getting wide and high, leave the home squad feeling good about their chances against one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
Nashville Eyes Season Sweep
Nashville would love nothing more than to secure a season sweep over Toronto on Sunday and their ability to fight, as they did in the first meeting, will always give them a chance. Nashville is unbeaten in their last seven games and has used a strong run to move up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Add in a strong win against Toronto at the end of June, and this team is beaming with confidence at the right time as we inch towards the playoffs. The last meeting saw a 92nd-minute goal win it, along with an 83rd-minute goal tie it, just showing the lack of quit in this side. That mentality has helped Nashville grab 26 points in 15 games, with a plus-ten goal differential. Nashville may have the confidence but also have to realize that they can’t wait until ten minutes to go in the game to change the direction of the game and start to impose their will, or else a surging team in their own right, like Toronto, will take all three points.
Nashville is unfortunately dealing with quite a few more issues than Toronto is, with six players, many of them integral pieces, expected to be out. Dom Badji (right ankle), Anibal Godoy (left hamstring), Daniel Lovitz (health and safety), Jack Maher (health and safety), and Walker Zimmerman (right hamstring), all are expected to miss time this weekend. With the Gold Cup winding down, it’s time for many players to make the most of their opportunity and that’ll be exactly what Nashville SC’s young core will be looking to do on Sunday night. The first meeting saw Nashville control the possession and take more shots, a game plan they’ll need to use again to take all three points on the road.
The biggest miss will be Zimmerman in the back, who remains one of the best defenders in MLS. When coupled with additional absences from Daniel Lovitz and Jack Maher on the defensive side of things, it seems like Nashville could be in trouble. Nashville will also have quite a bit of scoring, with leading scorer Hany Mukhtar (seven goals, four assists), that should be enough for him to continue to look like a star. Add that to the experience of C.J. Sapong has had this year and it shouldn't come as a surprise to see Nashville continuing to find ways to outscore their opponent.
Toronto has a few advantages, with the biggest being their health and availability. Being the home team and having Nashville travel up to Canada, should give them momentum and set them up for a strong finish on Sunday as they look to flip the script and standings. Toronto has the experience in Bradley, Altidore, and a host of other players to make things work and Sunday’s game with Columbus can expect back some key scoring pieces themselves. Columbus will struggle with their lack of depth in the back, with three sure-fire starters all reporting as out for the day, leaving Toronto wide-eyed to make a move on the scoreboard.
These two teams have already met once this season, just the second all-time meeting between the two teams and the five goals will leave people thinking that the scoreboard will be lighting up for the rematch. Both teams will be scoring goals in the early going and after a 1-0 win last year, the teams are starting to become more familiar too. Nashville specifically is pretty beat up injury-wise in the back, leaving them exposed for much of the night. On the flip side, Toronto has had their own fair share of injuries but is finally healthy at the right time and the offenses will show for themselves and their opponents on Sunday night.