Match Preview: Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United Saturday, May 21 MLS on FOX

Atlanta United visits Nashville SC at GEODIS Park on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and the match will be televised nationally. 

It wasn’t long ago that Atlanta United traveled to play its first-ever match at Nashville’s brand-new venue, GEODIS Park. Just 10 days separate the two meetings. The first was on May 11 for a Round of 32 matchup in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The two sides were both grouped in the South region and the matchup was set in the U.S. Open Cup draw for the round.  

The match on May 11 was a tale of two halves. Atlanta United scored two goals, one from Thiago Almada and another from Luiz Araújo, to go up 2-0 at halftime. However, Nashville SC came out of the locker room for the second 45 with increased intensity, challenging Atlanta United in the attacking third. Nashville evened the match to force extra time. In the first 15-minute period, Nashville scored on a breakaway that drew Atlanta United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth out of position. The home side held on to knock the defending champions out of the U.S. Open Cup. 

Seeing the same team within a two-week span has kept the loss fresh for Atlanta United players. On Tuesday, striker Ronaldo Cisneros said this weekend’s matchup was a “revenge game,” suggesting Atlanta players are looking forward to the chance to avenge conceding a two-goal lead and being knocked out by Nashville SC just 10 days ago.  

“Just the way we lost the game and conceding in the last minute, losing in overtime, there are a lot of guys in that locker room who are looking forward to going back there,” Shuttleworth said.

Match-Preview-Atlanta-United-Nashville

Matchday Conditions 

Last time out, the conditions in Nashville were hot and muggy – and this weekend expect more of the same. The forecast for GEODIS Park at kickoff is mostly sunny with a high around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity. There’s also a small chance of some isolated thunderstorms rolling through later in the evening. 

Traveling to the match? We've got everything you need from places to visit, dining and what conditions to expect at kickoff in our new Traveling Supporters Guide presented by 76. 

Soccer In The Music City 

Nashville SC is an MLS club based in Tennessee. Nashville SC is one of the newer clubs in MLS and played its inaugural season in 2020. The team found early success, posting winning records and qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in both of the club’s first two seasons in the league. 

On March 6, 2019, the club announced Gary Smith as the team’s first head coach. Smith, who is from England, spent time managing several clubs in England before making the move to MLS. He previously coached the Colorado Rapids and led the team to the league title in 2010. Smith is the first and only English head coach to win the MLS Cup. 

The club most recently opened GEODIS Park, a brand-new soccer-specific stadium in Nashville. The open-air stadium is the largest soccer-specific venue in the U.S. and Canada. In May, the team began play there and has yet to lose a match at the new venue.

GEODIS-Park-Nashville

Series History 

This will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two sides. Nashville owns the series 3-2-2. After losing the first two matches to Atlanta United, Nashville has gone unbeaten in the last four meetings and won both meetings in 2021. Most recently, Nashville SC knocked Atlanta United out of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-2 win in extra time on May 11. 

Red Hot Nashville 

Like Atlanta, Nashville SC plays very well on its home soil. The team hosted CF Montréal, a club toward the top of the Eastern Conference standings, for a midweek match on May 18. The home side won 2-1, extending Nashville’s streak of going unbeaten at home to 23 matches in all competitions. In 2021, Nashville went undefeated at home for a full season, becoming just the seventh club in MLS history to complete the feat. 

Last season, Nashville SC was one of the teams competing for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference table. However, in realignment before the season, Nashville moved back into the Western Conference (expansion club Charlotte FC was added to the East). Entering Saturday’s match, Nashville is ranked sixth in their conference with 18 points, just five points behind first-place Austin FC. This will be the last and only meeting in MLS play between Atlanta and Nashville this season. 

“They’re a good side, and we just have to go there and try to perform up to our standard and hopefully we get three points this time,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. 

Atlanta On The Road 

Atlanta United plays well at home, currently riding a 13-match unbeaten streak at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team has found some rhythm in the previous two matches played at home and gotten some help by getting on the scoreboard early. Atlanta United’s first goal against Chicago Fire FC came in the third minute, the first goal in Cisneros’s hat trick. Against New England, Almada opened the scoring in the 15th

The 5-Stripes now look to find a way to continue that success on the road. In its last six away matches, the club has won only once – against D.C. United on April 2. Winning on the road in MLS is challenging, and Atlanta has won just six of its last 32 away matches. 

But things are starting to gel in Atlanta United’s attack. In the last three matches, the team has scored eight goals, and two of those goals came on the road in Atlanta United’s last meeting with Nashville on May 11.

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Nashville SC
Atlanta United
Possession
46%
57%
Passing Percentage
80.6% (16th)
85.3% (1st)
Total Scoring Attempts
136 (18th)
172 (4th)
Assists
16
11

Players To Watch 

Thiago Almada – Almada had a strong performance in Atlanta United’s 2-2 draw with New England Revolution. He scored the first goal for Atlanta and assisted the second goal for Araújo, becoming the 13th player in club history to record both a goal and an assist in an MLS match. The performance earned Almada a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for the first time in his career.

Marcelino Moreno – When asked about the connection forming between Almada and Araújo in Atlanta United’s attack, Pineda made sure that Moreno (as well as Cisneros) were added to that list. And for good reason. Moreno leads the team in assists (4) this season and also has two goals. He’s finding connections with Almada and Araújo, and the three playmakers create a dynamic attack for Atlanta. In the 3-2 loss to Nashville on May 11, Moreno contributed to both of Atlanta United’s goals and recorded assists on both.

Marcelino-Moreno-Nashville

Walker Zimmerman – As a center back for the U.S. men’s national team and the 2021 MLS Defender of the Year award winner, Zimmerman is one of the best young American defenders. But the 6-foot-3 Atlanta native can also be lethal in Nashville’s attack. Against Atlanta United earlier this month, Zimmerman put a few dangerous headers on goal and appeared to score on a set piece that was called back due to offsides. Atlanta United will need to keep tabs on Zimmerman – on both ends of the pitch. 

Other Tidbits 

  • Atlanta United will be wearing the BLVCK kit on Saturday. 

It’s a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff for Atlanta United and Nashville SC on Saturday. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the match.

Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

Everything you need to know about the match including lineups, stats, latest stories and real-time updates.