Nashville SC midfielder Dax McCarty admits the team have endured a difficult spell ahead of their clash with the Seattle Sounders, but is determined to put things right after they fell to a 4-1 defeat at Charlotte last time out.
Nashville are seventh in the Western Conference, still occupying a playoff berth, but have come under pressure after winning just one of their last five MLS games.
The Tennessee side’s poor run followed on from a four-match unbeaten sequence through late May and early June, and McCarty is desperate to get back to those heights against Seattle next time out.
“(It’s been a) difficult few weeks for our group, no question about it,” McCarty said. “Since day one, the fans’ support of this team has been nothing short of incredible, and we need you now more than ever.
“(There’s) plenty of time to get back on track, and it starts Wednesday.”
Seattle, meanwhile, fell to a harrowing 3-0 home loss to their biggest rivals the Portland Timbers last time out, their second consecutive home defeat.
Seattle are just one point and one place behind Nashville in the standings, and full-back Alex Roldan says the team must put their derby defeat behind them and refocus if they are to enjoy a successful season.
“It’s a rivalry game and losing to our rival at home is worse than losing to another opponent,” he said. “It just wasn’t our day. We have to improve, own up to our mistakes and improve on those things.
“It’s a quick turnaround as we have more games coming up and a lot of the season is still to be played, so we’re looking at the second half of the season, not (at) one game.
“We’re looking to make the playoffs and have a good run, so our focus is on that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nashville SC – Hany Mukhtar
Mukhtar scored Nashville’s lone goal against Charlotte from the penalty spot, his third straight league match with a goal. Mukhtar has scored eight goals in his last eight MLS matches, two more than any other player since that run began in mid-May, and will be looking to continue his fine form.
Seattle Sounders – Raul Ruidiaz
The Peruvian forward’s five league goals this term make him Seattle’s joint-top goalscorer (alongside Jordan Morris), and he will look to take advantage of any fragility in the Nashville ranks after their 4-1 defeat last time out.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Nashville SC won the first ever meeting between the sides, a 1-0 victory at Lumen Field on February 27. The match was decided by an 80th minute goal scored by Anibal Godoy.
– Nashville conceded four times for the first time in club history in a 4-1 defeat in Charlotte on Saturday. Including playoffs, the loss to Charlotte was Nashville’s 81st MLS match. Only Houston (147 games) went longer before allowing four goals in an MLS match for the first time.
– The Sounders have won two of their last three road games (L1) following a run of just one win in nine away from home (D3 L5) dating back to last October. Seattle have kept clean sheets in both wins in that time after failing to keep one in their previous 13 MLS road games.
– Seattle suffered their largest home defeat in nearly seven years on Saturday, falling 3-0 to the Timbers.
– Including playoffs, Seattle had previously gone 124 straight home matches without losing by three or more goals, the third-longest such streak in MLS history.