Gary Smith is hopeful the goals will soon start to flow for Nashville SC as they prepare to face Los Angeles FC this weekend.
Nashville have scored just seven goals through their opening eight games this campaign and have fired blanks in half of those matches.
At the opposite end of the field, Smith’s side have the best defensive record in the entire MLS with only four goals conceded thus far.
On the back of a 2-1 loss at New York City FC last time out, Smith wants to see his side turn chances into goals, starting against the reigning MLS Cup champions on Saturday.
“It’s always frustrating when you get beat, particularly when you have some difficulties in finding the back of the net and not being a bit more clear-cut with chances,” Smith said.
“I’ve said before that I have every faith in the guys and I have no doubt they’ll come good. It’ll be nice to see a game where we hit the back of the net three or four times.
“That could be the shot in the arm the group need, but there is no cause for concern at this point – there is plenty of other good things going on.”
All hustle ahead of another home matchday pic.twitter.com/PyR77TS6fh
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) April 21, 2023
LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield last season are unbeaten so far this campaign, winning five and drawing two of their matches to sit second in the Western Conference.
But despite Nashville’s scoring issues, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo is expecting a difficult contest at Geodis Park.
“They’re a team that’s tough to beat,” he said. “We’ve seen they’re a well-coached team who prides themselves on keeping clean sheets and concedes few chances.
“On the other side, they don’t score a lot. They create chances, are dangerous from set-pieces and on the counter, but they’re not scoring a lot at the minute.
“But especially in Nashville, they’re extremely difficult to beat. Points at this stage of the season are points – every team has the same attitude right now.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nashville – Hany Mukhtar
Mukhtar has scored two and assisted three of Nashville’s seven goals this season, including a late consolation strike at New York City last time out.
However, his past three goal contributions have come on the road – never before has he played three straight MLS home matches without scoring or assisting a single goal.
LAFC – Carlos Vela
Vela continues to be a key player for LAFC, with the former Mexico international scoring back-to-back braces in all competitions.
The 34-year-old was involved in all three of his side’s goals in their win over LA Galaxy last week – the 10th time he has contributed to three or more goals in an MLS game.
MATCH PREDICTION – NASHVILLE WIN
Los Angeles FC’s 17 points from their opening seven games is their second-best return at this stage, bettered only in 2019 when collecting 19.
Their unbeaten streak spans 10 matches stretching back into last season, though that run has to come to an end eventually.
LAFC were victorious on their only previous trip to Nashville last year, but Smith’s side have not lost multiple home games against a single opponent on home soil.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Nashville – 42.1 per cent
LAFC – 29.6 per cent
Draw – 28.3 per cent
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