Major League Soccer

Nashville SC-Toronto FC Preview

Toronto FC will be looking to maintain their momentum under interim head coach Javier Perez by picking up a first ever victory against Nashville SC in Sunday's clash at BMO Field.

The Reds are unbeaten in four matches since Perez took over from Chris Armas in early July, beating New England Revolution and Chicago Fire during that impressive run.

However, Perez's side now face another tough test against a Nashville side unbeaten in seven games and still on a high after easing to a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati last week.

Nashville have also won both previous meetings with Toronto - a dramatic 3-2 victory in June and a 1-0 extra-time win in last season's MLS Cup.

Stand-in boss Perez is understandably expecting a difficult match this weekend, then, with Toronto desperately aiming to make up ground on the playoffs.

"They are a very, very strong side, and they've been on a run of seven games straight undefeated, so obviously they are doing a lot of good things," Perez said.

"They have a really good distribution of the players on the field, so they can make an impact defensively right away. When they are in possession of the ball they are clinical.

"They have good players with quality up front and a very strong side overall. We expect a very challenging game on Sunday."

Nashville may be well positioned in the Eastern Conference, but they are winless in four matches on their travels this season, drawing three of those.

That includes three games without scoring, yet they still have 24 goals for the season overall, tied for the fifth-most in the league heading into this round of matches.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Toronto, Nashville boss Gary Smith said: "I do believe we've got as good an attacking group as we've had in the 18 months we've been in MLS.

"But we've still got to make sure we've got a good balance and a good foundation to the group."

Toronto FC - Alex Bono

Perez has no doubt made Toronto defensively stronger, but there is still work to be done in terms of tightening up at the back. Indeed, if not for Bono it may have been a different story against the Fire last week as the American keeper made 13 saves, breaking a 13-year-old club record in the process.

Nashville SC - Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar has made the transition from attacking midfielder to striker look seamless, the former Germany Under-21s international leading Nashville in scoring this season with seven goals. He was kept off the scoresheet against Cincinnati last time out, but the 26-year-old set up two of his side's three goals to highlight just how important he is to Smith's plans.

- Nashville have won both of their meetings with Toronto. This will be their first ever match in Canada.

- Toronto FC are unbeaten in four straight matches (W2 D2) since making a coaching change. The Reds have more points in four matches since Armas departed (eight) than they had in 11 matches with him (five - W1 D2).

- Nashville are the only team with just one loss in MLS this season, though their eight draws are tied with Houston Dynamo for the most in MLS. Nashville have scored 24 goals in 15 matches this season, equaling their total from 23 regular-season matches in their inaugural 2020 campaign.

- Nick DeLeon scored his first goal of the season in Chicago on Saturday, becoming the 14th different Toronto player to score a goal this MLS season. No other team has had more than 11 different goalscorers in 2021.

- C.J. Sapong scored twice in Nashville's 3-0 win over Cincinnati on Saturday. It was Sapong's eighth multi-goal match in MLS and the fourth different team he has done it for (Sporting KC, Philadelphia, Chicago).

Updated July 31, 2021

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