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Nashville SC bring stingy defense into match vs. Charlotte

Aug 30, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; Nashville SC midfielder Hany Mukhtar (10) kick the ball past Inter Miami during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Hoping to build off a strong defensive performance, Nashville SC will try to end their winless drought when they host Charlotte FC on Saturday.

Nashville (11-9-6, 39 points) is 0-4-1 over its last five matches, but at least ended its losing streak with Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Inter Miami. Though Miami held 69 percent of the possession and outshot Nashville 13-7, Nashville became the first team to shut out the Herons in Lionel Messi’s 10 MLS matches.

“I’m sure that there are not going to be too many teams going to this place and be able to limit this Miami group to as little as we have tonight,” Nashville coach Gary Smith said. “It was a resounding display without the ball. Guys fulfilled their roles to an absolute optimum and more.”

The back line held steady even without Walker Zimmerman, who is questionable for Saturday after missing Nashville’s last two games due to a lower-body injury.

Nashville’s 26 goals allowed are the fewest in MLS, while Charlotte FC is tied for the league lead in goals allowed (42).

Another late concession left Charlotte (7-9-9, 30 points) disappointed by a 1-1 draw with Orlando City on Saturday. Enzo Copetti’s penalty-kick goal in the 81st minute put Charlotte ahead, but poor defending allowed Orlando’s Martin Ojeda to convert a long-range free kick for the 88th-minute equalizer.

“I thought we should’ve won the game, comfortably as well,” Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said. “… (A draw was) the very, very bare minimum of what we could expect after a performance like that.”

Charlotte is 1-1-6 in its last eight regular-season matches, with all of the draws costing the team valuable opportunities to move above the Eastern Conference playoff line.

Lattanzio told the media on Friday that midfielder Brecht Dejaegere is not expected to play Saturday after a thigh injury forced him out in the 14th minute against Orlando.

In the first meeting of the season, Nashville SC earned a 2-1 road victory on May 20.

Nashville midfielder Hany Mukhtar’s 13 regular-season goals tie him with FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta for the league lead.

–Field Level Media