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Nashville SC-Red Bulls Preview
Nashville SC are not attempting to be "flash" as they aim to establish themselves as a regular playoff contender in MLS, according to chief executive Ian Ayre.
Former Liverpool chief Ayre has been in charge of the expansion franchise since 2018, with Nashville enjoying a run to the Eastern Conference semi-finals in their inaugural season.
They have made an unbeaten start to 2021, with two wins and five draws from their seven league games so far heading into Friday's clash with the New York Red Bulls.
And while success is the end goal, Ayre outlined that there is no plan for Nashville to go beyond their means in order to reach it.
"We're not trying to be flash. Nashville is not flash, right?" Ayre said in an interview with Nashville Scene.
"Flash doesn't really work. I'm not saying our fans wouldn't love us to go out and have Mo Salah turn out for us next week.
"What if that player who comes is older, has less to contribute, versus a Randall Leal or others that are in and around there?"
Ayre also suggested Atlanta United provide the perfect template for Nashville to attempt to replicate.
"If you take Atlanta's huge success, which we have massive admiration for, when Josef Martinez and [Miguel] Almiron turned up, nobody was really going, 'Oh my God, they've signed…'
"Now, for a couple of years there, they were the golden children of MLS, right?"
Nashville face a Red Bulls side who sit two points behind them, but they have just secured on-loan Fabio - whose four assists so far are the second-most in MLS - on a deal for the rest of the season.
"We have a big trust in Fabio and are excited to have him for the remainder of the year," Gerhard Struber said. "He has been able to learn our system and make an impact already. We hope to see more success from him throughout the year."
New York Red Bulls - Fabio
Only New England Revolution playmaker Carles Gil has recorded more assists so far in MLS than Fabio, who will be looking to make the most of his extended move to Nashville.
Nashville SC - Hany Mukhtar
Hany Mukhtar scored both goals in Nashville's comeback draw at Atlanta in their last match. Mukhtar is the only player who has scored multiple goals for Nashville in an MLS game, also doing so against Houston in October 2020.
- The Red Bulls have won an MLS-high 14.9 tackles per match this season. Cristian Casseres Jr. leads all players averaging 3.1 tackles per 90 minutes this season. (minimum 360 mins).
- This will be the first-ever meeting between the Red Bulls and Nashville.Nashville (W2 D5) are one of two unbeaten teams left in MLS this season (also Seattle Sounders) despite winning just two matches.
- The Red Bulls have five wins and six losses in their last 11 games dating back to the end of last season (including playoffs). All five wins in that time have come at home (L1) while they have lost all five of their away matches during this run.
- Nashville are the second team in MLS history to go unbeaten through seven games of a season while winning two or fewer matches after the Chicago Fire in 2009 (W2 D5).
Updated June 17, 2021