Skip to content

MLS Eastern Conference: Nashville SC’s next steps, Hannes Wolf shines & more on each team

We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

13 min read

Welcome back our two-part weekly MLS column here at Backheeled where we break down all 29 teams in the league.

I’ve got the East. Joe Lowery's got the West. Cameron Harper announced his arrival. Gary Smith made the first departure of the year. As the youths say, we out here.

To read up on the West, check out Joe’s rundown.

MLS Western Conference: Zack Steffen’s bad day, Minnesota United’s tactics & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Western Conference.

Atlanta United

Result: 1-1 draw at Nashville SC

The Five Stripes got a point on the road in a rivalry match against a Nashville SC team that had just fired their manager. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s a bad thing. Bartosz Slisz got his first MLS goal. That’s a good thing. Gonzalo Pineda seems to have bought himself a bit more time after the result. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s a bad thing.

You know what was objectively a great thing? Dax McCarty getting a standing ovation on his return to Nashville. The former Nashville captain left Nashville this winter (not by his choice) after four seasons and 112 appearances. He got the warmest reception by a visiting player yet at Geodis Park, deservedly so.

The handshake and hug with Hany Mukhtar, his first training camp roommate, while running onto the pitch? How can you not love that?

FC Cincinnati

Result: 3-1 win vs. St. Louis City

Are you ready for one of the greatest own goals you’ve ever seen? I can tell that you’re not ready. But you can never be ready for what Matt Miazga pulled out in the second half of his team’s clash with St. Louis City.

Death taxes, St. Louis’ opponents getting the most absurd breaks, etc, etc… 

The thing about this FC Cincinnati team is that they’re legitimately good enough to take one of Miazga’s chaos moments on the chin and maintain their steady march to three points. 

That’s exactly what happened against St. Louis, where they truly dominated their Western Conference foes. Yuya Kubo continues to be the best all-action player in the East and looks right at home playing as a striker for Pat Noonan. He’s finding excellent spots in the attack and appears to have a rock-solid connection with Lucho Acosta, who was his usual magical self on Saturday.

Even with Miles Robinson enjoying this one from the bench, the defense wasn’t tested (outside of the pop quiz Miazga decided to pose to himself, which he promptly failed in epic fashion). The midfield was exactly as solid as the front office hoped it would be when they built it. And the attack is operating at a far higher level than anyone could’ve imagined with Kubo and a teenager leading the line.

Things are great for the league’s points per game leaders.

Charlotte FC

Result: 0-0 draw vs. LA Galaxy

I’ve been a little worried that this column is turning into a Patrick Agyemang fanfest.

The thought of devoting so much digital real estate to one of 873 active MLS players (only real numbers here at Backheeled, baby) gave me slight pause. Then I watched him *Chris Traeger voice* literally toss Mark Delgado and that reminded me that Patrick Agyemang is a baller and I don’t care who knows.

On the opposite end of the field, Charlotte have kept four straight clean sheets. Only Cincinnati has allowed fewer than their 13 goals and 14.64 expected goals. Dean Smith has instantly turned them into one of the most stalwart defensive units in the league. It hasn’t got nearly the buzz it deserves, and it’s countering for their meh attack. It might just drag them into the playoffs.

This post is for paid subscribers


Already have an account? Log in