Nashville SC vs Columbus Crew: MLS Matchday 6 Preview

Following the robbery of a game at Charlotte last week, the Columbus Crew will continue their away matches this Saturday night as they confront Nashville SC at GEODIS Park - this time without some replacement referees.

May 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Columbus Crew midfielder Darlington Nagbe (6) fights for
May 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Columbus Crew midfielder Darlington Nagbe (6) fights for / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew will hit the road for their third away game of the season when they face Nashville SC. With a current away record of 0-1-1 (W-D-L), the Black & Gold are aiming to secure their first league win on the road. You can also say that one loss is an anomaly due to the circumstances.

The Columbus Crew suffered their first defeat of the season against Charlotte FC, losing 2-0 last Saturday night. The team faced challenges early on with injuries and questionable refereeing decisions. Despite holding a 0-0 score line until the 83rd minute, Charlotte managed to break through and doubled their lead just five minutes later. Despite a resilient effort from the manager-less and injury-plagued team. It also doesn’t help the fact that the officials were having a mere.

MLS referee lockdown ends

Earlier this week, the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), representing all professional MLS match officials, approved a new collective bargaining agreement. This agreement marked the end of a monthslong lockout that had compelled the league to utilize replacement referees for the first six rounds of the season. The dispute primarily revolved around financial matters, and under the new agreement, referees will experience a substantial 68% salary increase and will resume work this weekend.

The timing is quite intriguing; this issue had to be resolved mere hours after the abysmal official performance at Charlotte (and may or may not have been triggered due to our article on the night). It appears that Columbus took one for the league to initiate changes. With the lockout taking effect before the league opener, the introduction of low-tier replacement referees led to frequent incorrect calls across Major League Soccer.

A look at the hosts

After five matches, Nashville SC holds a record of 1-3-1, placing them in 11th position in the Eastern Conference with six points. On the road, they are yet to secure a victory, with a record of 0-1-1, but they have remained undefeated at home, with a record of 1-2-0.

Nashville SC is struggling to establish a consistent rhythm in the league. Despite starting with three draws in their first three games, they managed to secure a win in their fourth match before facing a defeat against Los Angeles FC in their latest game. The match against LAFC was a complete disaster for Nashville.

They were thoroughly outplayed as LAFC scored five unanswered goals, resulting in a 5-0 defeat for Nashville SC. In the 61st minute, Joe Willis received a red card, forcing Nashville to play with 10 men for the rest of the game, and will of course miss Saturday’s encounter. This defeat marked their worst-ever in franchise history, leaving fans uncertain about their team's performance expectations for upcoming matches. Undoubtedly, the 5-0 defeat will have a psychological impact on the team, but the question remains whether they can move past it and regroup for future games.

Team news

The Crew will benefit from the return of starting goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, midfielder Aidan Morris, and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe from international duty. However, Columbus will be without defender Rudy Camacho and forward Christian Ramírez due to injuries sustained during the Charlotte match. Alex Matan remains to be sidelined, and Derrick Jones will be unavailable due to a red card and subsequent fine for not leaving the field promptly for whatever reasons.

As for Nashville, they are without their top two center backs; however, having players like Jacob Shaffelburg and midfielder Anibal Godoy, both of whom were on duty with their national teams last week, will still make them dangerous, especially playing at their home turf at GEODIS Park where the Crew lost last year.

What to expect

Just because we’ll be getting the standard refs back doesn’t mean they’re perfect, they’re still prone to make mistakes but definitely not to the extend of the former scab officials. Referee aside, it will once again be a tough battle as despite losing 5-0 last weekend, Nashville will want to make amends and win in front of their loyal supporters.

The Columbus Crew are keen to recover from their loss against Charlotte last week. Columbus enjoyed a successful run with three wins in the first four games in the league and promptly saw them not only the top of the Eastern Conference, but at the top of the Supporters Shield prior to kickoff at Charlotte. The Black & Gold were unlucky to have their player sent off, which partially explains the outcome. However, they cannot afford a repeat scenario in the upcoming game.

What are your score predictions?