San Jose Earthquakes can match Nashville and earn a draw in their MLS clash this weekend
Checking out the best sportsbook sites sites, we can see that bookmakers don’t give San Jose much of a chance in this game. The Earthquakes are big outsiders across the books for their fixture in Tennessee, while Nashville are as short as -135 with some firms. Alternatively, if you believe that the visitors can pick up a point, you can wager the draw at +305.
After two seasons in the Eastern Conference, the addition of Charlotte to MLS means that Nashville have been shifted over to the Western Conference. The move means a lot more traveling for Gary Smith and his squad, but so far they seem to have made the adjustment. An opening day victory in Seattle was an impressive start and they’ve continued to pick up regular points, going into the recent international break with a 6-4-4 record that keeps them in touch with most playoff contenders.
After a disappointing 2021 campaign, head coach Matias Almeyda was under pressure and needed a strong start this year. Unfortunately, his players could not oblige. The Earthquakes picked up three points from their first seven and that was enough for the franchise to remove Almeyda. His replacement, Alex Covelo, has overseen an improvement, gathering 11 points from their last seven games, although they remain one place off the bottom in the West.
Nashville have not been badly hit by international absences, with Panama’s Anibal Godoy their only absentee this weekend. However, they are still weakened by injuries, most notably to strikers Randall Leal and Teal Bunbury. They will also be without midfielder Irakoze Donasiyano and defender Robert Castellanos for this clash with the Earthquakes.
San Jose’s absentee list is more extensive. Jamiro Alvarenga and Ousseni Bouda are missing on international duty, while Niko Tsakiris, Siad Haji, George Asomani and Gilbert Fuentes are unavailable through injury. Marcos Lopez and Jackson Yueill are also struggling with injury though may be available from the bench if they pass fitness tests.
This will be the second meeting between these two teams this season. The first came back in April, when San Jose were the hosts. On that occasion, Nashville led at half-time and scored a second after the break but the Earthquakes twice leveled to finish with a deserved point, although that was not enough to save coach Almeyda, who was sacked two days later.
Still, that performance does indicate that San Jose are not the typical lower-table underdogs. In fact, it is notable that they have dominated possession stats in most of their games so far. Clearly, the Earthquakes are attempting to play a progressive brand of soccer, enabling to score frequently, but have not yet integrated an effective defensive strategy, something that many teams attempting to play in this possession-based style struggle with.
By contrast, Nashville usually set up in a three-man defensive formation that emphasizes defensive solidity and generally cede more possession to their opponents, often playing on the counter. That suggests that we will see a fascinating clash of styles, with the relatively unusual prospect of a lower-ranked visiting team dominating possession.
For this reason, it could be risky to assume that Nashville will win comfortably. On form they certainly deserve to be favorites, but allowing your opponents to have the majority of possession is a risky tactic, and San Jose have shown that they are capable of turning possession into goals at a respectable rate.
Usually when a game is figured to be higher scoring than the average, the draw becomes less likely, but in this case, I think San Jose’s ability to score and likely dominance of possession will keep them in the contest throughout and the draw looks the best play.
Only two teams in the West have scored more goals than San Jose – a remarkable statistic, given their current position in the rankings. Unfortunately, the Earthquakes have been leaking goals at an even faster rate. They’ve conceded 32 goals in 14 games, at an eye-watering rate of 2.29 per game, and that has continued despite the change of coach.
Unfortunately, this has not gone unnoticed by the bookies and there is little value in the Over 2.5 goals option, but there is an alternative option. Thus far in 2022, Nashville have shown a marked decline in second-half performance. Their aggregate goals record in the first half is 10-4, but in the second half it slips to 8-12. By contrast, San Jose tend to improve after the break, from 8-14 in the first half to 17-18 in the second. So it could pay to go with Nashville/Draw in the Half-Time/Full-Time market.
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