Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Major League Soccer clash between Nashville SC and Orlando City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Orlando City can win their first-ever away fixture in the MLS Cup playoffs when they head to GEODIS Park for game two of their best-of-three series against Nashville SC on Tuesday.
A goal four minutes from the interval in match one was enough to propel the Lions to a 1-0 victory, the first in their history in normal time....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
For over a month, the Boys in Gold have been in a scoring slump, and that continued in Orlando last Monday as they failed to find the back of the net for the fifth time in their last six domestic encounters.
Nashville have one more chance to fix those attacking deficiencies and they may want to draw on their experience at the Leagues Cup earlier this year, when they faced elimination five times, emerging victorious on four occasions.
This upcoming game will be the first playoff encounter at GEODIS Park, while the Boys in Gold have won their only two post-season fixtures played in the Music City by a combined score of 6-1, including a 3-1 triumph versus Orlando City in 2021.
Even though Gary Smith’s men have gone on to lose four of their last five playoff games, each of those defeats were right there for the taking, losing once in extra-time, once in a penalty shootout and twice by a single goal.
They enter this game in a home slump, winning just one of their previous six matches played at GEODIS Park (3-2 win over the New England Revolution), scoring a goal or fewer in all but one of those games.
The Boys in Gold have won every playoff encounter when netting in the second half, though that has only happened on two previous occasions (a 3-0 win over Inter Miami in 2020 and a 3-1 victory against Orlando in 2021).
It was not the most convincing victory for Orlando in the first match of this series, but in the end, the Lions did enough to earn their first-ever clean sheet in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Defensively, Oscar Pareja’s side have been well-organised and compact down the stretch of the season, conceding in only one of their last five MLS fixtures.
A victory would not only be the first for this franchise away from home but it would also advance them into the Eastern Conference Semi-finals for just the second time in club history (2020 was the first).
During the 2023 regular season, the Lions performed well away from home, winning nine times altogether, the most in MLS.
If they can triumph in this upcoming encounter, that would extend their MLS winning run to six matches, equalling the longest in club history set between March and May 2018.
That 2021 playoff defeat versus the Boys in Gold is the only time the Lions have lost a match against them in the Music City, with Orlando winning their lone visit to GEODIS Park last month by a score of 1-0.
Nashville SC Major League Soccer form:
Orlando City Major League Soccer form:
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In the opening match of this series, Nashville were without Nick DePuy due to a lower-body injury, while Smith made one change to his starting 11 as Jacob Shaffelburg played on the wing instead of Randall Leal.
Anibal Godoy led the Boys in Gold with 36 accurate passes in their previous outing, Jacob Shaffelburg had a 100% pass accuracy, Sam Surridge was first in expected goal for Nashville (0.6), while Walker Zimmerman led them in duels won with three.
Hany Mukhtar was first on the team with five shots, three of which were on target, though the 2022 MLS Golden Boot winner is goalless in his last seven league fixtures, while he, Daniel Lovitz, Zimmerman and Joe Willis have begun every playoff encounter in club history.
The Lions might be missing Jack Lynn for this one as he is dealing with an issue in his left thigh, while Favian Loyola could be out after injuring his left arm.
It was a series of firsts for Orlando City in match one, with Wilder Cartagena picking up his first playoff goal, Cesar Araujo had his first post-season assist and Pedro Gallese collected his first career playoff clean sheet.
Duncan McGuire, who scored 13 goals during the regular season, one fewer than Facundo Torres for the most on the team, had the only strike in their previous visit to GEODIS Park, thanks to a nice setup from Martin Ojeda.Nashville SC possible starting lineup:Willis; Moore, Zimmerman, Maher, Lovitz; Muyl, Davis, Godoy, Shaffelburg; Picault, Mukhtar
Orlando City possible starting lineup:Gallese; Thorhallsson, Schlegel, Jansson, Santos; Araujo, Cartagena; Torres, Pereyra, Angulo; McGuire
We say: Nashville SC 1-1 Orlando City (Orlando City wins on penalties)
For as good as the Nashville backline have been all season, they have not been able to get it together anywhere else on the field and that has to be a cause for concern as they face elimination.
The Lions are a scrappy and resilient bunch who have shown poise away from home and made their chances count and we believe they will maintain that composure when needed in this match.
How to watchYou can watch Nashville SC vs. Orlando City and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:curl
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Mikel Arteta praises ‘really consistent’ Martin Odegaard
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on captain Martin Odegaard amid his impressive form following the November international break.
The Norway international was sidelined with a hip problem last month and it was followed by another absence due to a head collision in training.
Odegaard made his comeback after the internationals. He had a quiet evening at Brentford last weekend, but was on the scoresheet against Lens on Wednesday.
He carried over the good form into the Wolves game, scoring the vital winning goal in the end.
Aside from his strike, the 24-year-old created three big chances for his teammates and was unlucky to not register an assist or two due to poor finishing.
Speaking after the 2-1 victory over Wolves, Arteta said that Odegaard has had two ‘very very good’ games and he is a ‘really consistent’ player.
The Gunners head coach added that the playmaker tends to fare best against high-pressing sides such as Wolves and he was ‘really good’ today.
He told Arsenal.com: “I thought he had two very, very good games and he’s a really consistent player, he gives a lot especially against teams like that, they didn’t want to defend very close to their own box and I think he was really good today.”
Odegaard has not played with the same creative freedom as last season, but he has still netted seven goals and provided two assists from 18 games.
The Norwegian appears to be picking up his form at the right time and he will be crucial to the Gunners’ chances of challenging for the league title again.
Today’s win has taken the Gunners to 33 points from 14 games. They are four points ahead of second-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.co
Martin Odegaard was back to his best vs Wolves
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard was back to his best during the 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Gunners made it three league wins on the bounce after beating Wolves at the Emirates Stadium. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
A wonderful bit of team play contributed to Odegaard doubling the lead in the 13th minute.
Arsenal should have been out of sight with the chances in the final third, but they had a nervy finish in the end after Matheus Cunha scored, four minutes from time.
A defensive mishap from Oleksandr Zinchenko paved the way for the goal, but the Gunners managed to hang on for a well-deserved victory over Gary O’Neil’s side.
In our view, Odegaard was clearly the man of the match with one of his best performances of the season.
The Norwegian was inconsistent with his form earlier this campaign, but he appears to be finding his feet at the right time for the Gunners in their title pursuit.
Against Wolves, he had 97 touches with 77 passes at an accuracy of 89 per cent. He had no defensive work to do, but was brilliant with his attacking display.
Odegaard managed six key passes and created three big chances for Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah respectively, but they failed to extend the lead.
The Gunners should have been out of sight with at least a five-goal margin, but they were made to work hard for the victory after a late consolation strike from Cunha.
The win over Wolves has seen the club extend their lead at the top of the table to four points.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com
Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic crowned Next Gen ATP Finals champion
Twenty-year-old Serbian sixth seed Hamad Medjedovic is crowned the Next Gen ATP Finals champion with a captivating victory over Arthur Fils in Sunday’s final.
Twenty-year-old Serbian sixth seed Hamad Medjedovic was crowned the Next Gen ATP Finals champion with a captivating victory over Arthur Fils in Sunday’s final.
Emulating the feats of his compatriot Novak Djokovic in November’s ATP Finals, Medjedovic brought home another trophy to Serbia with a 3–4, 4–1, 4–2, 3–4 , 4–1 victory in just after two hours.
Medjedovic’s success caps off a stellar breakthrough year for the 2003-born protege, who reached the first round of Wimbledon and the French Open for the first time in 2023 and came close to breaking into the top 100, getting as high as world number 102 in October....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
“I can’t believe I have won this title, but it’s going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024. Arthur is an amazing player; he’s Top 40 for a reason, so I’m really happy,” Medjedovic said on the court.
“It was tough after the first set. I changed my clothes and recovered and started to play good again. I didn’t play good when I had match points in the fourth set. I wasn’t relaxed, I was very stiff. Thank God I recovered and I was just trying to stay relaxed as much as I could and I managed to do it in the end.”
2023 ATP Finals Champion: Novak Djokovic 🇷🇸2023 Next Gen ATP Finals Champion: Hamad Medjedovic 🇷🇸Learning from the best 👀 pic.twitter.com/ie284rcZ3M— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) December 2, 2023
Making a name for himself throughout the tournament with his blistering serves, the Serbian fired 19 aces past Fils throughout the contest and won 88% of points behind his first serve in total.
Medjedovic also kept his mistakes to a minimum, only producing nine unforced errors and 32 winners, as well as saving all four break points he faced against his French foe.
The 20-year-old recovered from a couple of early unforced errors in the fourth-set tie-breaker to bring up two match points, although he failed to take either of them as Fils took the contest to the distance.
However, an inopportune unforced error from Fils on break point allowed Medjedovic to establish an early two-game lead in the fifth set, and the Serbian quintessentially confirmed his champion status with an ace on match point.
Alongside his Next Gen supremacy, Medjedovic also took home three Challenger level titles in the 2023 season, as well as getting to the semi-finals of the Astana Open and Swiss Open on the ATP Tour.
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