COVID-19 has shut down not just MLS but the entire sports world. With social distancing and stay at home orders in place for a majority of America we are in unchartered waters. No one really knows what is going to happen with the rest of Nashville SC’s inaugural season in MLS. That said, with nothing but time to think about it the past week the most likely scenario is the MLS season does resume at some point. I think the most likely scenario is they will have to rework a reduced schedule. If you look at Nashville SC schedule on their website six home matches have already been postponed. It looks like MLS hopes to resume play for the Wednesday, May 13 match versus Philadelphia. Given it is just four days after FC Dallas which has already been postponed it is certainly up in the air. Optimistically let’s assume that is when MLS restarts. So how can Nashville reschedule the missed games?
How Will Nashville SC Make Up Postponed Home Matches Due to COVID-19?
After the Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC has seven straight matches on the road. Basically every one of them is on Saturday. While possible they could fly home for a mid week match, I don’t think they will do that. There is a two week gap between the FC Cincinnati match on May 30 and Minnesota United on June 13. This gap is when the CONCACAF Nations League is supposed to be played. Given the Euros, Copa America and Olympics have already been canceled, I suspect the CONCACAF Nations League will be postponed until next year too. In addition, I doubt the U.S. Open Cup will be played this year as well. Nashville will likely make up two matches during this break, Saturday June 6 and the Wednesday before or after it. Given there is only one weekend where Nashville SC doesn’t already have a match scheduled the rest of the season, the team is going to play more mid week games to fill the 34 match schedule. MLS like all big businesses love money and certainly want to play all 34 matches if possible. So where would Nashville SC reschedule the rest of these matches? Looking at the schedule here are open dates I suspect they pick from.
- Wednesday, June 3
- Saturday, June 6
- Wednesday, June 10
- Wednesday, July 8
- Wednesday, July 15
- Wednesday, July 29
- Wednesday, August 19
- Saturday, September 5
- Wednesday, September 23
- Wednesday, September 30
- Wednesday, October 7
More Mid Week Matches
Any of the Wednesday dates could be a Tuesday or Thursday, depending on travel, but these are really the only options. As mentioned they likely will play at home on two of the first three dates listed and pick four of the next eight. There is also the possibility they extend the season by a few weeks. While the NFL hasn’t released their schedule yet any Sunday home match the Titans have surely rules out Nashville SC playing the day before. So I would think this limits Nashville SC to getting maybe one additional Saturday night match with an extended MLS season. So at best, half of the postponed matches will move from weekend games (I’m including Friday night as weekend) to mid week matches. Can Accam, Leal and Mukhtar hold up playing so often? Injuries are more likely and Gary will be forced to give players rest playing Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday on several occasions. Badji, Rios and Winn are going to have to play a lot of minutes. Unless they make a major jump it just isn’t MLS starting quality.
Nashville SC Benefits From the Postponed MLS Matches
The delay benefits Nashville SC in one major way. Since before the season started the clear and obvious hole in the disappointing Nashville SC roster was the lack of a goal scorer. One should have been signed before the season started if the team really wanted to compete this year. Sadly for fans the club decided to wait until the summer to make the move. Well, with half a dozen games moving from March, April and early May until later in the season that DP forward will get more matches to make a impact this year. That should translate into at least a couple more points for Nashville SC.
Postponed Matches Will Hurt Nashville SC
While getting more matches from a DP forward will help Nashville SC, the condensed schedule will be a problem. MLS teams that will benefit from a more concise schedule the most are the ones with the best depth. Assuming all 34 matches are played there are going to be many weeks where Nashville SC plays a mid week match. Combine that with the extensive travel (Don Garber we are still unhappy about being in the Western Conference) and it might hurt Nashville SC more than any other club. They do have depth in the backline, but even with a DP forward added to the roster there isn’t much up top.
Stats Are Misleading Though Two Games
While Team Shill has talked about how good the attack has been in the first two matches it is very misleading. Sure Nashville SC has some impressive offensive stats, but the team has been trailing for 149 of the 180 minutes played. When you have to push for an equalizing goal, you naturally get more crosses and shots. This team is built to play defensively just like Portland did when they got up 1-0 in the 12th minute last match. Nashville SC needs difference makers in attack and players that can finish and so far only Walker Zimmermann, a center back, has found the back of the net. Hopefully they sign one soon as the current roster will struggle to score 40 goals this year. Taking everything into account, the lack of depth likely outweighs the extra matches a second DP will play.