Columbus Crew vs Nashville SC Preview, Picks, Betting Predictions: Home Win Looks Good

Derrick EtienneAfter extending their unbeaten start to the season last time out, the Columbus Crew entertain Nashville SC on Saturday (6pm ET). Will Caleb Porter’s men pick up another positive result? Or will the visitors bounce back after some below-par efforts? This preview and its predictions should answer those queries and more on the way to our concluding betting picks.

The Columbus Crew were not capable of following up their victory over Toronto last week, though since they went a goal down with little over five minutes to play, the point that Caleb Porter’s men snatched from Red Bull Arena, courtesy of a 95th minute Darlington Nagbe goal, probably felt like a win. That tie extended their unbeaten run to four games at the start of this new campaign, which has positioned them nicely in second position in the Easter Conference, two points behind early leaders Philadelphia Union.

For Nashville, the season began in pleasing fashion, as they went to Lumen Field and beat the Seattle Sounders first time out, keeping a clean sheet in the process, while they went two without loss when holding Minnesota to a tie at the start of March. However, the positive start made by the Loons has quickly been forgotten. Saturday’s visitors have since lost two on the spin, coming up short against both FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. Such form is far from ideal ahead of making a visit to Field, which is anything but an easy place to go to.

Doing everything right

So far, the Crew have delivered a textbook display, winning two out of two at home, picking up two solid ties on their travels. In front of their own fans at Field, Porter’s men have scored six goals, while they’ve shipped just at one at the other end. In terms of xG, they’ve created an encouraging 4.4, posting number of 2.7 and 1.7 in their first two games. They’ve conceded only 1.3, surrendering totals of 0.3 and 1.0. Such figures bode well ahead of a fixture against a Nashville side that hasn’t exactly started the campaign in blistering offensive form.

Lack of goals

Nashville enjoyed themselves in just their second season at this level last time around, making the postseason, thanks to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference, though they did so largely thanks to their form at home. Far from terrible on the road, Gary Smith’s men didn’t often lose when playing on the road, but for a large part of the campaign, they were blighted by a lack of goals, and it looks as though that may be the case again.

It’s very early days, but the Nashville boys have notched just three goals in four matches, which isn’t great. In terms of goals scored, only one team in the Western Conference, which they’ve joined this season, has had a worse start to the season. Only four teams have performed worse so far in terms of expected goals for too.

Recent head-to-head record

This will be the fifth time that this pair have done battle since Nashville SC entered Major League Soccer back in 2020, and there hasn’t often been much between them. In fact, last season, there was nothing to separate the Crew and the team from the Music City. At this venue, they were locked together at 0-0, before tying 1-1 at Nissan Stadium, where the mercurial Lucas Zelarayan’s 75th minute strike was cancelled out just two minutes late by Nashville’s key man Hany Mukhtar. Three of the four renewals of this fixture have ended all-square after 90 minutes.

What’s more, this isn’t a fixture that has been treated to a glut of goals, with no more than two goals being scored in any of the previous four renewals. And in only one of those matches did both teams find the net.

Best bet?

The Crew come into this game as warm favourites, and it’s hard to argue with that. In fact, you could easily make a case for them being shorter than the -110 that is currently available. At such odds, the home win makes plenty of appeal.

For starters, there’s a chasm between what Columbus have produced at home and what the Nashville boys have done on their travels. Since the visitors have played four out of four on the road, they have away form of W/D/L/L. Which maybe doesn’t look too bad, but if we scratch beneath the surface, then it’s easy to conclude that they’ve not been great. It’s not that they give loads away, conceding five goals, surrendering an early-season average of 1.12 xG, which is far from terrible. However, their average of 1.07 xG for is worrying, whilst it’s simply nowhere near as good as th Crew’s average of 2.2 expected goals for at home. Therein lies the difference.

In terms of both creativity and end-product, Columbus look considerably stronger than their visitors here, and it is this extra offensive strength that can see them through to victory. Bettors can make this one pay by siding with the home win.

Derrick to do it for the hosts

Attacker Derrick Etienne is shaping like he’s going to be a player to tail in the ‘to Score’ market this season. The Haitian has scored twice already, while in what appears to be a more advanced role, he’s averaging 3.31 shots per 90 minutes, as well as averaging 0.65 expected goals per 90 minutes. Such numbers are not becoming of a player who can be bet on at odds of +425 to find the net here, so get in while you can and take the value.