Nashville SC will aim to continue a promising start to the season Saturday night when they visit a New England Revolution side that will be missing a crucial player.
Nashville (2-0-1, 7 points) has yet to concede a goal during the new season and most recently beating CF Montreal 2-0 at home last Saturday on goals from Jacob Schaffelburg and Taylor Washington.
Significantly, that start has come while 2022 MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar has been limited by an early injury. Saturday's win marked Mukhtar's first start.
That has sparked talk that Nashville could be a contender for the Eastern Conference title in their return from the West following offseason realignment. Yet, manager Gary Smith isn't having it yet.
"It's early on. Six to eight games in, let's have a look at where we are," Smith said. "We'll see where the Eastern Conference settles out."
The Revolution (2-1-0, 6 points) also have designs on being contenders in the East, although they were dealt a reality check last weekend in a 4-0 loss at MLS Cup defending champion Los Angeles FC.
New England gave a decent account of themselves for the first hour of the game before LAFC brought star Carlos Vela off the bench, and the home team poured it on late.
New England's Carles Gil, the 2021 MLS MVP, likely is unavailable with a lower-body muscle injury he had been managing before aggravating it during the loss to LAFC.
The Revs now face a vastly different opponent. Offense-minded LAFC has scored 11 goals and conceded four in four games in all competitions this season. Nashville has scored four and conceded zero.
"A good team, similar to the teams they've had over the years," Revs manager Bruce Arena said of Nashville. "Very good defensively. Haven't been scored on yet this year. (Teal) Bunbury and Mukhtar have been good in the attack, as have their wide players as well. You know, they're a good team. And they continue to have a style that's successful for their team."
--Field Level Media