Nashville SC plays its first USL home match at Nissan Stadium against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday at 5 p.m. We reached out to John Krysinsky, co-owner and managing editor of Pittsburgh Soccer Now, to better understand Nashville’s next opponent.
We asked Krysinsky about the Hounds’ offseason, new head coach Bob Lilley, starting lineup, intriguing match-ups and his final score prediction.
GG: Hounds — who were the biggest losses and most exciting signing?
Krysinsky: Corey Hertzog’s production and work-rate/ability to create/find goal scoring chances will be the club’s biggest loss. Otherwise, most other areas it seems as if the Hounds have upgraded or found suitable replacements.
The most exciting signings are also probably the two biggest question marks — former USL Golden Boot winner Dennis Chin, a forward, and former Portland Timbers midfielder Ben Zemanski. Neither has played much since being signed.
Most Hounds fans were excited about the permanent addition of center back Joe Greenspan this coming season. He played here on loan from Minnesota United FC for 10 games last year, and was a solid force in the middle of the back line.
GG: What kind of impact will the seven players who played under Lilley at Rochester have on this team?
Krysinsky: The biggest thing will be familiarity with Lilley and what he wants. He’s an old-school coach who has a unique approach in doing things. He’s really tough on them, but most every player has raved about the guy. The players from Rochester will provide some stability and continuity for the Hounds, especially early in the season. Two keepers, two outside backs, and trio of midfielders including former All-USL selection Kenardo Forbes, all played for Lilley last season.
GG: Who will fill Hertzog’s void, and can Hounds be better at converting chances than last season?
Krysinsky: Lilley has invested in Romeo Parkes — and is counting on his skill set and speed to get behind defenses and be dangerous in the box. But Lilley also said that this will be a team that will have a lot of attacking options and expectations are to have a more balanced attack. They have seasoned veterans Kevin Kerr, Chin and Zemanski, but also younger dynamic players like Christiano Francois and Joe Holland who will be instrumental in the attack.
GG: What will the Hounds starting lineup be on Saturday?
Krysinsky: For opening day, this is what I envision:
GK – Dan Lynd
D – Ray Lee, Jordan Dover, Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts
MF – Mouhamed Dabo, Kerr, Francois, Holland, Kenardo Forbes
F – Parkes
GG: What are the biggest questions marks?
Krysinsky: The goalkeeper position will have three players who’ve basically been unproven over the course of a full season at this level. Lynd and Kyle Morton were with Rochester in 2017 as the number two and three keepers. Lynd played 10 games, but Morton has only played in one U.S. Open Cup game.
GG: What match-ups are you most intrigued by?
Krysinsky: It will be fun to watch how the Hounds will deal with Lebo Moloto, who was with Pittsburgh in 2015 and 2016. He was an up and down player in his tenure in the Steel City. Was in peak form from mid-point through the end of the 2015 season, but had a difficult 2016 campaign, but seemed to rediscover 2015 form a year ago. He scored a spectacular goal against Rochester (coached by Lilley) in the second to last game of 2015 season in a 1-1 tie that helped the Hounds make the playoffs. Lilley’s squad only surrendered 15 goals that season.
GG: Final score prediction for the game?
Krysinsky: I’m thinking a 2-1 Hounds win.