Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati – MLS, April 17, 2021
Two expansion teams with contrasting fortunes go head-to-head on the opening weekend of the 2021 MLS season, with Nashville hosting Cincinnati at Nissan Stadium on Saturday, April 17.
Since joining Major League Soccer in 2019, Cincy has recorded two straight last-place finishes. By contrast, Nashville made it all the way to the conference semi-finals in their maiden MLS campaign.
Who will come out on top when the two sides face off on Saturday? I assess the odds before giving my Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati prediction and betting pick.
Nashville vs. Cincinnati Odds
Well, it’s safe to say that 10bet isn’t giving FC Cincinnati (4.50) much of a chance here. As expected, Nashville SC (1.73) is the bookmakers’ clear favorite to claim all three points on Saturday.
The teams had never faced each other in a competitive match before, although Nashville did beat Cincy 3-1 in a pre-season friendly last year. Let’s face it – nobody would be shocked to see a similar scoreline this time around.
Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati Match Preview
Nashville SC exceeded all expectations last season, so much so that pretty much every MLS fan developed something a soft spot for the newcomers.
Nobody expected the Tennesse expansion club to reach the Conference Semifinals, let alone qualify for the Playoffs. But after securing an admirable seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference, that is exactly what happened.
Better still, Nashville finished the regular season with the third-best defensive record in the East – conceding just 22 goals in 23 games – while center-back Walker Zimmerman was named MLS Defender of the Year for his troubles.
Naturally, the question on everyone’s lips is – can Nashville do it again?
Having only netted 24 regular-season goals last term, Gary Smith’s men will need to up their game in the attacking department. If they can hit the back of the net with more regularity in 2021, the Boys in Gold will surely find themselves challenging for a top-seven finish once again.
When Nashville and Inter Miami joined the league last year, Cincinnati would have been confident of avoiding a second consecutive Wooden Spoon. But unfortunately, the Orange & Blue failed to shake the “worst team in MLS” tag.
Cincy won six of their 34 games in 2019, ending that campaign with a points per game average of 0.71. Last season, the Ohio outfit picked up just four wins from 23 outings, ending 2020 with an even worse PPG of 0.70.
Not only was Jaap Stam’s men the lowest scorers in the entire league last year – netting a measly 12 goals – but they also finished the previous campaign with the fourth-worst defensive record in the East.
Following Frankie Amaya’s offseason switch to the Red Bulls, it feels like Cincinnati is destined for more struggles in 2021. Brazilian forward Brenner has joined the club, as has Mexican attacking midfielder Lucho Acosta. Still, it isn’t easy to imagine Cincy improving dramatically this year.
It is also worth noting that Cincinnati’s side ended 2020 on a dismal run of nine defeats in ten games.
Nashville vs. Cincinnati Pick
Nashville SC to Win1.73
Unfortunately for Stam’s men, I just can’t see things getting any better for them this season. Cincy has been the worst team in MLS for a couple of seasons now, meaning Nashville should kick-off 2021 with a win.
Of course, it will be difficult for the Boys in Gold to emulate their 2020 achievements. Still, I’m confident that Nashville will beat Cincinnati without any real problems on Saturday.