Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC at Nashville SC

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After a 1-0 home opener victory over NYCFC, the Charlotte FC schedule featured three consecutive matches on the road. So far, the team has performed well, notching a respectable 1-1 draw at Vancouver and a tight 1-0 loss at Toronto.  

Head Coach Dean Smith’s squad will wrap up that three-game road trip with a visit to Nashville SC this Saturday, playing for all three points against a side on short rest.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC

When: Saturday, March 16

Where: GEODIS Park

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

Watch: FREE on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV – How to Watch & Listen

Listen: WBT AM 1110/99.3 FM (English) & WOLS 106.1 FM (Spanish)

For all other radio station affiliates in the Carolinas, click here.

Finishing Strong

Against Nashville SC, Charlotte FC will need to finish strong – both by finding the back of the net and by closing out the final half hour more effectively.

Stronger finishing in the final third means more goals scored, which, coupled with CLTFC’s strong defensive performances, means more wins.

Duh. Thanks for that in-depth analysis, Will. I’ll let Dean Smith do the talking on this.

"You have to build foundations first, to allow yourself to be an offensive team. I think that's what we've done so far with the players. We’ve given them the foundations of where we want teams to play against us when they have the ball. But then, what are we good at when we win the ball back?

"I think we've created some really good counter-attacking opportunities, but we're probably not delivering as best as we could on those opportunities. When the opposition have gotten behind the ball, we've been patient and drawn them out at times, and our set pieces have improved.

“There's lots of improvements to be done, but I've been quietly pleased with what we've done so far in a short amount of time."

In his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Smith continually emphasized that building defensive principles is always the first thing to be accomplished. Having your defensive shape sorted out early in the season gives that foundation from which to build more complex attacking ideas.

While the team works on developing their attacking philosophy, they will need to be more clinical with the chances they do create – especially on the road against a stingy Nashville team.

As for the other part of finishing strong, Caleb Adams broke down how Charlotte needs to close out games more effectively with his weekly Ingredients of the Match. Read more on that, alongside other keys to the match, here.


Staying the Course

Through three matches in charge, Head Coach Dean Smith has experienced all possible results: a win, a draw, and a loss.

In professional soccer, it can be easy to ride the waves of momentum – either for you or against you. However, Smith’s philosophy is to stay as level-headed as possible through the natural peaks and valleys of a season.

"I told you from the moment I came here that I won't get too high when we win, and I didn't after New York City. And I won't get too low when we don't [win]," said Smith on Thursday. "It's the nature of football at times. Some decisions have gone for us, some have gone against us, but as long as we keep performing to our capabilities, then I certainly believe we'll win a lot more games than we lose."

Charlotte FC played a solid match in Toronto, losing only to an exceptional long-range strike by Lorenzo Insigne. Before that, the team also put in two similar performances that yielded positive results.

One loss does not change the course for Smith, or the entire team, for that matter. Putting in consistency throughout the season is what counts, and Charlotte FC will look to continue that consistent run in Nashville.


The Opponent

Smith’s “80% focus on ourselves, 20% focus on the opponent” philosophy is well documented in these Match Previews, at this point. So, let’s just dive straight into what we can expect from Nashville.

Since entering the league in 2018, Nashville has been led by the same head coach: Gary Smith.

The Englishman shares a country and a last name with CLTFC Head Coach Dean Smith, and his team has historically played in a similar way to early-era Charlotte under Dean Smith… with some key differences.

While Dean Smith’s CLTFC team defends resolutely and cedes possession, they do look for pressing triggers high up the field and have some flexibility to how they play.

Gary Smith’s Nashville team, on the other hand, will defend resolutely first, second, and last. They will almost always sit in a low block, forcing their opponent to push numbers forward in possession, and then ruthlessly punish them with swift counter attacks led by former MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar.

Being able to break down a low block is something CLTFC have not had to do so far this season. Here, then, is another bump for Caleb Adams’ weekly Ingredients of the Match, as he explored what Charlotte need to do to score goals on Saturday.


And finally, in housekeeping news: Nashville played midweek against Inter Miami in the Concacaf Champions Cup, fielding a first-choice eleven and bowing out of the competition. They also reportedly lost center back and captain Walker Zimmerman to a minor injury. So, taking advantage of a potentially short-handed and rest-derived team will also be important keys to the match.

The Season (and Preseason) So Far

Charlotte FC won their first match of the season over NYCFC with a gritty 1-0 win at home and then secured a 1-1 draw away at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Last time out, the team lost a narrow 1-0 result on the road in Toronto. Previously, they had wrapped up a five-week preseason, with an opening stint in Miami, Florida and a closing stint in Indio, California for the Coachella Valley Invitational.

The team has gelled well under Head Coach Dean Smith, and his direct, efficient principles of play have quickly become apparent. CLTFC have kept one shutout and only conceded twice so far… once to an unstoppable golazo and once on a set piece.

Now, Saturday’s match against Nashville is the last of three consecutive away matches ahead of two at home against the defending MLS Cup Champions (Columbus Crew) and defending Supporter’s Shield Champions (FC Cincinnati).



Join us at Kickback Jack’s in Mooresville, NC as we cheer on Charlotte FC at our official Away Match Watch Party, presented by Modelo.

Address: 123 Ervin Rd, Mooresville, NC, 28117