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Match Preview: Penn FC vs Nashville SC

Episode VI: The Return of Ropapa

M. Williams/Penn FC

Match: Penn FC vs Nashville SC

Date: Tuesday, April 24st

Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC

Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)

Refs: Not announced at publishing time

How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)

How Nashville will look: Nashville hasn’t played since their 2-1 loss against Indy Eleven on April 14th. They haven’t played as well on the road so far in 2018, but their best road result came on Pennsylvania soil as they topped Bethlehem Steel 1-0 back in March.

Nashville will have a few familiar faces with them when they come to City Island Tuesday night. There’s Liam Doyle, who suited up for the City Islanders back in 2016, as well as Taylor Washington who played for both Bethlehem Steel and Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

But the most exciting return for the Penn FC fans is last season’s top scorer Ropapa Mensah. It won’t be a surprise for the people who watched him last season, but Ropapa has continued his scoring ways in Nashville. He has already found the back of the net twice for his new team, which equals the number of goals Penn FC has scored so far this season.

How Penn FC will look: Penn FC should still be warmed up because they just drew 1-1 with the Charleston Battery on Saturday night. But you’ve got to get your home games in when you have the chance. In this case, they just have to get their home games in while the Harrisburg Senators are out of town.

Since they’ll be playing a Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday slate of games this week, expect Head Coach Raoul Voss to bring out some fresh faces Tuesday night. Freddie Opoku and Jerry Ortiz played well in limited minutes on Saturday, so they could be in line to get more against Nashville. There also may be an opportunity for Opoku’s countrymen Isaac Osae and Prince Bafoe to make their Penn FC debuts.

What to expect: The Penn FC fans will certainly turn out to see Ropapa’s return to City Island, but they should be concerned if he continues to be such a dangerous goal scorer. Penn FC’s defenders will have to keep tabs on him at all times because if he manages to receive the ball inside the box, he has an impressive ability to use his physicality to open himself up for a shot.

The defense will need to keep Nashville off of the board because of how much Penn FC has struggled to score so far this season. With only two goals in four games, the Penn FC offense still hasn’t started clicking yet. They’ll want to push hard to score early because if Nashville gets on the board first they’ll be able to load up the box and really shut the Penn FC offense down.

Penn FC waited until the last minute to score against Charleston, but they shouldn’t count on that against Nashville. Nashville has kept three clean sheets out of five matches so far this season behind veteran goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Teams like Louisville and Indy Eleven needed some spectacular goals to beat Pickens, so Penn FC will hope that they can find some more USL Goal-of-the-Week magic to get one past him.

One last wild card for this match is the weather. The most recent forecast calls for a chance of rain at kickoff and a little wet weather could loosen both teams up and lead to some extra goal scoring. Of course, the opposite is also possible. Some bad weather could cause both sides to slow down on the way to a scoreless draw.

PREDICTION: Ultimately the most convincing piece of evidence for my prediction is that both of these sides have a 0-0 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in 2018. I think this match will go much the same way. But it won’t be 0-0 this time, I predict a 1-1 draw for this one.