Nashville SC, Revolution in search of much-needed momentum

While Nashville SC and the New England Revolution are guaranteed their playoff places, each side still will be looking to reverse a recent slide when they meet on Saturday night at Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville SC (12-10-10, 46 points) strung together a 10-game league unbeaten run earlier this season, winning seven of those matches between April 22 and June 16.

And the club also enjoyed a deep run in the 2023 Leagues Cup, eventually losing the Aug. 19 final on penalties after a 1-1 draw to Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami.

But they’ve only won twice in the league since June 21 and most recently have settled for draws in five of their last seven. Team-leading scorer Hany Mukhtar has scored only two of his 15 goals in his last 14 MLS appearances.

The recent draws have been enough keep Nashville in seventh place with enough cushion to clinch one of nine Eastern Conference playoff spots before the final day of the regular season. But manager Gary Smith knows his team could benefit from positive momentum.

“I do think the way that we finish, the mindset, and the emotional position of the group, the personality of the group come the end of the season is probably going to be more important than anything,” Smith said of this weekend’s match, which was rescheduled from August because of Nashville’s Leagues Cup run.

New England’s slide has been shorter but maybe more severe since an investigation on alleged inappropriate comments by Bruce Arena led to the manager’s resignation and the removal of interim boss Richie Williams.

The Revolution (14-8-10, 52 points) have lost three of five since Clint Peay assumed the interim role despite continued production from Carles Gil, who has scored a career-best 11 goals. And they’ve conceded 14 times in nine games since losing goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic on a transfer to English giants Chelsea.

But striker Gustavo Bou could be in line for his first start since Aug. 3 after recovering from a leg injury and playing 45 minutes in last weekend’s loss to Orlando. The Revs can still finish as high as third in the East, which would secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

“We understand we’re still in control of the last two games,” Revs midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said. “It’s the same intensity, the same concentration that we require for this next game, because we understand how important the three points are.”