Earthquakes, Nashville SC both struggling entering matchup

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Saturday, April 27, 2024

Struggling to find form as the 2024 MLS season reaches the one-third mark, the San Jose Earthquakes visit Nashville SC on Saturday as both clubs try to turn around the poor starts to their campaigns.

While Nashville SC (1-3-4, 7 points) had an early-season run in the CONCACAF Champions Cup that is now well behind them, the focus on the continental competition undoubtedly drew away from their MLS performance. A single win through eight matches marks the worst start in the club's four-year history.

Coming off a 3-1 loss against Inter Miami, in which Lionel Messi scored a brace, Nashville will look to right the ship against the Western Conference's last-place team. However, they will have to do so without mainstay defender Lukas MacNaughton, disrupting a backline that has already conceded an average of two goals per match.

"Lukas underwent surgery on Tuesday. Without going into too much detail, it ended up being a pretty difficult situation for him physically as you can imagine if he's going into surgery," Nashville coach Gary Smith said after the Canadian international had to leave the Miami match in the 51st minute. "The timeframe is a difficult one to work out at this point, but it's going to be a reasonably long-term injury with Lukas."

In better news, Nashville will face one of the quietest attacking sides in MLS, the Earthquakes (1-8-0, 3 points), who have scored just 13 goals through nine matches.

Jeremy Ebobisse leads the group with three goals and could return to the starting lineup after scoring from the bench in a rare substitute appearance against the Seattle Sounders, boosting his form to two goals in three matches. He also scored against Austin on April 6, with both matches ending in 4-3 defeats.

Although the Earthquakes have struggled through the early parts of the season, a lighter schedule ahead could allow them to turn things around. They also got a boost by signing midfielder Hernan Lopez as a designated player on Thursday.

"Hernan is an extremely gifted player that we've been targeting, so we're really looking forward to bringing him aboard and having him make a creative impact in our midfield," Earthquakes head coach Luchi Gonzalez said of the 23-year-old, who is unlikely to feature against Nashville. "His technical skill, vision and ability to both finish and create for others will add another dynamic to our attack."

--Field Level Media