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Nashville SC aims for win in first-ever match vs. Austin FC

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Nashville SC heads home as one of only three unbeaten teams in MLS but will have its hands full with expansion Austin FC when the two sides meet for the first time on Sunday night in the Music City.

Nashville (1-0-4, 7 points) produced its fourth draw of the season in its most recent match, a scoreless result at Real Salt Lake in its first road match of the season. With the shutout, Nashville has now gone 317 minutes without allowing a goal. The last goal given up by Nashville came on April 24, in the 42nd minute of a 2-2 draw against CF Montreal.

Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis has recorded three consecutive shutouts with the draw in Salt Lake, a match in which he didn’t even face a single shot on target.

“Last year, we had a similar start to what we’ve done in the last three games,” Willis said of the shutout streak. “We’re giving ourselves a good foundation. As long as we can keep keeping clean sheets and giving the guys a chance, then I have all the confidence in the world that more goals will come.”

Austin (2-3-0, 6 points) heads to Tennessee after a 2-0 loss at the LA Galaxy on May 15, its second consecutive defeat after wins over Colorado and Minnesota. This match again comes on the road, as Austin has started its inaugural campaign on an eight-game trip away from home before opening Q2 Stadium on June 19 versus San Jose.

Captain Alex Ring, who was suspended for last weekend’s match against the Galaxy, is expected to be back in the lineup for Austin. He has averaged 77.7 passes per 90 minutes this season, highest in MLS.

Nashville, which made the playoffs as an expansion team in 2020, has been a blueprint of sorts for Austin, a first-year side that has been very competitive through its first five matches.

“You have an idea of what you want your playing style to look like,” Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said about the comparison to Nashville. “You go out and start bringing in players that support that and will give you the things that you want and along the way you keep evolving.

“That was seen last year with Nashville. They were difficult to play against and along the way they became better offensively. That’s the growth that typically can happen, but it does take time.”

Sunday’s match will be Austin’s first against an Eastern Conference team.

–Field Level Media

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