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Columbus Crew vs. Nashville SC Betting Preview
Two teams attempting to break into the top four in the Eastern Conference meet on Wednesday as the defending MLS champion Columbus Crew host Nashville SC. Both teams are coming off of a weekend win in a stretch of three games in seven days. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio, and the contest will be televised on ESPN+.
Columbus is 2-0-0 against Nashville in their history, and both games had 2-0 scorelines. The first game in Nashville’s expansion season came in Columbus on September 19, 2020. Nashville pushed the Crew to the brink in the MLS Cup Playoffs East Conference Semifinals before the hosts scored twice in extra time to advance.
Zelarayan Plays Hero Role Again
Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan did it again on Saturday and set a franchise record in the process. His free-kick goal in the 62nd minute not only led to a 2-1 win over NYCFC, but it also gave the Argentinian a Crew record with four free-kick goals in one season. With the campaign not even halfway over, Zelarayan has his sights set on the MLS record of six, set by Sebastian Giovinco four years ago.
The Crew were happy to get keeper Eloy Room back from the Gold Cup after Curacao dropped out with COVID concerns. He stabilized the defense again with captain Jonathan Mensah, despite Harrison Afful missing the game through red card suspension. Afful will be back on Wednesday, but the Crew are still without Gold Cup participants Gyasi Zardes (USA), Liam Fraser (Canada), Kevin Molina (Trinidad and Tobago), and Derrick Etienne Jr. (Haiti).
Darlington Nagbe scored against NYCFC, with Pedro Santos providing his team-leading third assist of the season. Santos hasn’t scored yet in 2021 but leads the Crew in minutes played. Keep an eye on him Wednesday night as he scored the opener in both wins over Nashville in 2020.
The Crew have just one loss in the last eight games, but they have only one win in the last five, thanks to three straight draws. The offense has provided two goals in three straight games, while the defense hasn’t held a clean sheet in a win since June 19.
Nashville Flying High
Everything went right for Nashville over the weekend with a 5-1 home demolition of 10-men Chicago Fire. Even with defenders Walker Zimmerman (USA) and Alistair Johnston (Canada) at the Gold Cup, the Black and Gold weren’t troubled by the Fire. Hany Mukhtar not only had a hat-trick, but he scored all three goals in a six-minute span.
Nashville is unbeaten in 15 of their last 16 and are in fifth place in the East. Mukhtar leads the team with seven goals and is one of four players with at least two assists. C.J. Sapong, who drew Chicago’s red card Saturday, has three goals while three others have scored twice.
Manager Gary Smith has switched to a three-back system with Zimmerman and Johnston gone, employing both 3-5-1-1 and a 3-4-1-2 over the last three matches. Dylan Nealis and Jalil Anibaba have filled in nicely, while Brian Anunga has a goal in place of Panamanian midfielder Anibal Godoy.
Playing on the road this week will be a little different for Smith and his crew after five straight home games. They last left Nashville on June 18, a 2-0 loss at New York Red Bulls. They have played just three road matches all season with two draws and their only loss in 13 total games.
Columbus Crew ML (+165) (-0.5) (+135)
Nashville SC ML (+175) (-0.5) (-145)
Total Goals 2.5. O -115. U -105
First to score: Crew +100. Nashville -105. No Goals +600
The Crew are so dangerous on set pieces with Zelarayan it only takes one mistake for them to change a game. They are 18-1-2 at home over the last 21 games and have yet to drop points at the new stadium. The crowd will be loud and rowdy and could get Nashville rattled with an early Crew goal as the hosts have tallied 11 goals in their last five home games.
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