Gary Smith has left Nashville SC, with the team confirming they have parted company with their long-serving head coach.

Nashville beat Toronto FC on Wednesday, moving up to 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Yet on Thursday, the team confirmed they had decided to part ways with Smith, who had been in charge for seven seasons.

Smith won 52 MLS games during his spell in charge, while also leading Nashville to the Leagues Cup final in 2023.

Nashville face Atlanta United on Saturday, with ex-player and now player development coach Rumba Munthali stepping in as interim head coach.

No reason was provided for Smith's departure. He has been joined in leaving the club by assistant coach Steve Guppy.

A Nashville statement read: "Nashville SC extends its gratitude to Smith and Guppy for their dedication and contributions to our team and wishes them and their families all the best in their future endeavours.

"Under Smith's leadership, Nashville SC emerged as a very organised and hard-to-beat team in both leagues.

"In the USL Championship, Smith guided the team to a 32-win record over two seasons, including two playoff appearances and a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2019.

"His transition to MLS with the club was seamless, leading Nashville to four consecutive MLS Cup playoff appearances, a feat only achieved by two other teams in the league's history."


Nashville SC - Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar has scored five goals in nine career regular-season matches against Atlanta. Only Luciano Acosta (nine goals in 17 games) has scored more times against the Five Stripes.

Atlanta United - Thiago Almada

Almada has scored in all three of his career MLS matches against Nashville. No player has ever scored in four consecutive regular-season meetings versus Nashville, though Daryl Dike did score in four straight for Orlando City, including playoff games.


Despite Smith's departure, Opta's model still predicts a positive outcome for Nashville.

Atlanta are winless in 11 straight MLS away matches (D5 L6 incl. playoffs) dating back to last September. It is the longest active road winless run in MLS.

Nashville have won two straight home matches, their first regular-season home winning streak since a run of six straight last April-July. They managed just two wins in 12 home league games between the two streaks (D6 L4).

Atlanta's 4-0 home win over Nashville last August ended a seven-match winless run for them in the series (D3 L4). Atlanta won their first visit to Nashville, 2-1, in the latter's inaugural match in March 2020, but the Five Stripes are winless in five visits in all competitions since (D2 L3).


Nashville SC - 46.2%

Atlanta United - 25.5%

Draw - 28.3%

Nashville SC are ignoring any suggestions that an MLS playoff position is out of their reach ahead of the midweek clash with Toronto at GEODIS Park.

That was the message from the Boys in Gold head coach Gary Smith, whose side sit 13th in the Eastern Conference after their 1-0 defeat to Charlotte FC last time out.

Nashville are still only three points adrift of ninth-placed Philadelphia Union and a place in the postseason, with Smith refusing to give up hope.

"I don't believe, and nor do any of the guys in the group, that we are by any way, shape or form, out of the hunt for a playoffs position," he said. 

"A couple of results get you right back in to the mix again, and that's, of course, our challenge over the next two games."

Toronto are fourth in the East standings after their 3-2 defeat against New York City FC in their last outing.

Visiting head coach John Herdman is looking forward to facing a familiar face in Jacob Shaffelburg when his side visit, however.

"He's flying at Nashville," Herdman remarked on Monday. "I've seen some stats at the weekend about his impact on their team and how many touches he has in that opposition half and how many crosses are leading to goals. 

"I remember having him in that Gold Cup recently. He came off the bench and scored against the US. It shows where he's at now as a player."


Nashville SC – Sam Surridge

Former Nottingham Forest striker Sam Surridge continues to provide the goals for Nashville this term, scoring a club-leading five in MLS this campaign.

The Englishman failed to find the target against Charlotte, but managed a hat-trick against CF Montreal in his previous outing before that.

Toronto – Prince Osei Owusu

In the absence of the in-form Federico Bernardeschi, Prince Osei Owusu will be expected to step up against Nashville.

The Toronto forward leads the club scoring charts with five goals in 12 MLS appearances this year, two ahead of any teammate in the league.


Opta's win probability has Nashville as the overwhelming favourites for this one, yet a draw may be more likely considering each team's recent form and head-to-head records.

Toronto are unbeaten in five straight meetings with Nashville (W2 D3), with the Boys in Gold the only side the Canadians have played three or more times since the start of the 2022 season and not lost against.

Nashville have also won only two of their last 16 matches against MLS opponents in all competitions (D6 L8), though 11 of the 12 points they have collected over that time have come at home (W2 D5 L3).

Smith's hosts have conceded at least once in 12 consecutive matches in all competitions, too, their longest streak in club history after opening the season with three straight clean sheets.


Nashville SC win: 55.4%

Toronto win:18.6%

Draw: 26%

Gary Smith believes his Nashville side's thumping of CF Montreal last weekend is a step in the right direction as they look to build their "belief".

The 4-1 victory over Montreal, which saw striker Sam Surridge net a hat-trick, ended a run of five games without a win and moved Nashville up to 12th in the Eastern Conference.

As Nashville look to push further up the table when they travel to Charlotte FC this weekend, Smith is looking for his players to build on the Montreal performance.

"[The Montreal victory was] the first step in a long journey for us to get back to some rhythm, some success, put ourselves back in a position where there’s some belief here again that we can get results," Smith told reporters.

"We've seen we can score goals. I think that belief that we can win games again, this is the first step on that road.”

Charlotte also tasted victory last time out, beating the Portland Timbers 2-0 at home to leave them sixth in the East.

Midfielder Ashley Westwood hopes he and his team-mates can carry on the momentum from that triumph, saying: "It was a complete performance.

"During the game it felt comfortable. We felt like were in control with the ball and without the ball. We need to push on from that now."


Charlotte FC – Nikola Petkovic

Petkovic scored his first goal of the season against Portland, becoming one of 10 different players to score a goal for Charlotte this term, the most of any MLS team. Having netted his first of the campaign, he will be hungry for more this weekend.

Nashville – Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar has scored four goals in four career regular season matches against Charlotte FC, one of five opponents he's scored at least four times against in his MLS career. Though Surridge got the plaudits last time out, Mukhtar may be the main goal threat against a side he seems to have success against.


Charlotte have lost only two of their last 24 home matches in all competitions since March last season (13 wins, nine draws). Every MLS team besides Charlotte and the Columbus Crew (one loss) have at least four home losses in that time.

Nashville's 4-1 win over Montreal was just the club’s second win since the beginning of March in all competitions. Nashville's only other win in that time was a victory over Charlotte on March 16.

Charlotte won their first meeting with Nashville, a 4-1 home victory in July 2022. However, Nashville are unbeaten in the three meetings since, and though they are on the road, they may have enough to earn a point this weekend.


Charlotte: 38.1%

Nashville: 32.2%

Draw: 29.7%

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith knows his struggling side must make the most of their home games as they look to snap a five-match winless run against CF Montreal on Saturday.

Nashville sit a lowly 14th in the Eastern Conference standings with just eight points from nine matches, their only league victory of 2024 coming against Charlotte FC in mid-March.

They were pegged back in a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes last time out as the pressure on Smith intensified further, and he knows they are running out of time to turn things around.

"We're all very appreciative and understanding of the fact the home games represent the very best opportunity to earn points," Smith said. 

"But I wouldn't say that I feel any more pressure than I have done for any other home game or any other fixture."

Montreal, meanwhile, have seen their preparations overshadowed by reports that star midfielder Mathieu Choiniere has requested a transfer after entering the last year of his contract.

While boss Laurent Courtois is none the wiser as to Choiniere's intentions, he is keen to see the homegrown talent stay put. 

"Everyone loves Mathieu, everyone wants him to be valued, everyone wants him to stay here," Courtois said. 

"Everyone wants him here to lift the club as high as possible, for as long as possible.

"There will be discussions between players and the club to improve their contractual situations everywhere, and it doesn't always need to be in the public eye.

"I don't know the accuracy of the rumour that came out. The club hasn't told me anything."


Nashville SC – Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar scored with one of his six shots against San Jose last time out. 

He has taken a total of 388 shots since joining MLS in 2020, 100 more than any other player in the league in that time.

CF Montreal – Bryce Duke

Montreal managed just eight shots in their scoreless draw with the Columbus Crew last time out. Only Austin FC (7.8) have averaged fewer shots per match than Montreal (9.6) in MLS this season.

Duke has created nine chances for team-mates this campaign, a tally only matched by Choiniere among Montreal players. If they are to improve their attacking output, he will have a key role to play.


Nashville have only managed three wins in 21 MLS matches since the end of the Leagues Cup last August (10 draws, eight losses, including playoffs). 

They are also winless in their last five, drawing two and losing three, but the visit of a Montreal team who do not travel well could be a boost for Smith's men.

Montreal have gone four away games without a victory, failing to score in any of their last three and conceding 10 goals throughout that run. This game may just come at a good time for the hosts. 


Nashville SC – 49.4%

CF Montreal – 23%

Draw – 27.6%

Gary Smith is hopeful the goals will soon start to flow for Nashville SC as they prepare to face Los Angeles FC this weekend.

Nashville have scored just seven goals through their opening eight games this campaign and have fired blanks in half of those matches.

At the opposite end of the field, Smith's side have the best defensive record in the entire MLS with only four goals conceded thus far.

On the back of a 2-1 loss at New York City FC last time out, Smith wants to see his side turn chances into goals, starting against the reigning MLS Cup champions on Saturday.

"It's always frustrating when you get beat, particularly when you have some difficulties in finding the back of the net and not being a bit more clear-cut with chances," Smith said. 

"I've said before that I have every faith in the guys and I have no doubt they'll come good. It'll be nice to see a game where we hit the back of the net three or four times. 

"That could be the shot in the arm the group need, but there is no cause for concern at this point – there is plenty of other good things going on."

LAFC won the Supporters' Shield last season are unbeaten so far this campaign, winning five and drawing two of their matches to sit second in the Western Conference.

But despite Nashville's scoring issues, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo is expecting a difficult contest at Geodis Park.

"They're a team that's tough to beat," he said. "We've seen they're a well-coached team who prides themselves on keeping clean sheets and concedes few chances. 

"On the other side, they don't score a lot. They create chances, are dangerous from set-pieces and on the counter, but they're not scoring a lot at the minute. 

"But especially in Nashville, they're extremely difficult to beat. Points at this stage of the season are points – every team has the same attitude right now."


Nashville - Hany Mukhtar

Mukhtar has scored two and assisted three of Nashville's seven goals this season, including a late consolation strike at New York City last time out.

However, his past three goal contributions have come on the road – never before has he played three straight MLS home matches without scoring or assisting a single goal.

LAFC - Carlos Vela

Vela continues to be a key player for LAFC, with the former Mexico international scoring back-to-back braces in all competitions.

The 34-year-old was involved in all three of his side's goals in their win over LA Galaxy last week – the 10th time he has contributed to three or more goals in an MLS game.



Los Angeles FC's 17 points from their opening seven games is their second-best return at this stage, bettered only in 2019 when collecting 19.

Their unbeaten streak spans 10 matches stretching back into last season, though that run has to come to an end eventually.

LAFC were victorious on their only previous trip to Nashville last year, but Smith's side have not lost multiple home games against a single opponent on home soil.


Nashville - 42.1 per cent
LAFC - 29.6 per cent
Draw - 28.3 per cent

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