Nashville SC have been in a groove and so there’s no sense in backing off what has worked.
Charlotte FC might be heading in a similar route after a string of successes.
Both teams hope to stay hot when they clash Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Nashville (6-3-4, 22 points) has a five-game MLS unbeaten streak (3-0-2), a stretch that extends to seven games across all competitions.
“We’ve seen so often in this league that you can be in a very good place and complacency sets in,” Nashville coach Gary Smith. “I don’t think that’ll happen to this group, but you can never be sure.”
Charlotte (5-5-3, 18 points) has won three games in a row and four of five (4-1-0). The team is showing the characteristics necessary to succeed, even with evolving personnel in some positions.
“The resiliency comes from the character you bring to the team,” Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said.
Lattanzio said the addition of veteran Justin Meram, who has scored twice in four games since an April trade, has been a plus. Then there was a substitution in the most recent game that paid off.
Brandon Cambridge, a 21-year-old rookie, scored his first two MLS goals in the second half of Wednesday night’s 2-1 comeback victory against Chicago Fire.
“This is a kid who deserves this,” Lattanzio said. “I wanted him to experience (this). … I think he has great teammates around him.”
Another source of offense was a welcome boost.
“The only thing we can do now is keep going and look forward to Saturday,” Cambridge said. “Now that we’re picking up wins, it’s good for us to keep our heads.”
Nashville has benefitted from newcomers as well. Defender Lukas MacNaughton, who joined the team in a trade from Toronto, had his first career goal Wednesday night vs. Inter Miami CF in his third start with the team.
“These guys make it easy,” MacNaughton said. “When you come in from the outside, it’s just very easy. You can be yourself and just focus on playing.”
Bringing in different players to mix with the team’s foundation can be a good combination in keeping Nashville motivated, its coach said.
“We’ve got work to do,” Smith said. “We’ll just keep trying to add points to the board.”
What Charlotte hopes can be beneficial, particularly with aiming for a third victory in an eight-night span Saturday night, is the emergence of depth.
“It’s important for a club to have two teams,” Lattanzio said. “The more choices you have as a coach, the better. When I see what I like, they get a chance.”
Charlotte has continued to generate good vibes in front of passionate supporters.
“The enthusiasm that the fans create is great,” Lattanzio said.
Hany Mukhtar has six assists for Nashville, putting him second in the MLS in goal contributions with 12.
This is the first of two matches between the teams, though the rematch won’t come until Sept. 2 at Nashville. Charlotte won 4-1 last season at home in the teams’ only meeting.
–Field Level Media
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