The countdown is almost over. Nashville SC’s path to the USL and the MLS begins this Saturday when The Boys in Gold host Atlanta United at First Tennessee Park.
It’s been a long road since the announcement was made November 28 last year. A road filled with various signings and transitions for the club, but now the preseason exhibition is finally here. What can we expect from this clash of southern soccer upstarts? Here are seven things you should know heading into the game.
1. How to watch the game.
Nashville SC announced Tuesday that the game is a sellout, showing the local excitement in Middle Tennessee and the dedication of traveling Atlanta fans. Those in the area can watch the game on MyTV30, with kickoff slated for 3 p.m.
2. What to do before the game.
There will be plenty of pregame festivites to indulge in before the match itself. Both major Nashville SC support groups, The Roadies and The Assembly, will be hosting pregame parties at their respective home bars. The Roadies will set up shop at Pastime, while The Assembly will be located at Von Elrod’s Beer Garden and Sausage House. There is also a meetup slated for February 9 at Tailgate Brewery on Music Row for fans of both teams.
3. What’s the weather going to be like?
Bring a rain jacket or umbrella, unless you don’t mind getting a little wet. The forecast is calling for rain all day Saturday.
4. Who will start in goal for Nashville SC?
There’s no real indication of who will start between Matt Pickens and CJ Cochran, as Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith has stated he could use both of them frequently throughout the season. For this game, however, Pickens might the one who starts due to his experience. Don’t be surprised though if we see a split in time, and Cochran comes on to play the entire second half.
5. How will Nashville SC line up?
It’s already been revealed by Smith that he wants to play with five defenders in the back, which has fans wondering how the midfield and forwards will be played. Robin Shroot could end up starting up top, either by himself or with a partner, such as the towering Tucker Hume. Michael Reed, Josh Hughes, and fan favorite Martim Galvao might also see some time in the midfield.
6. Will Barco make his debut for Atlanta United?
Ezequiel Barco became the most expensive transfer in MLS history at $15 million when he signed with Atlanta United last month from Independiente. So will the talented Argentine play against Nashville? There’s a possibility, but Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino might also want to preserve his new star player for when the MLS campaign begins.
7. Can Nashville SC win?
With only a couple of weeks of practice under their belt as a full team, fans should temper expectations for Nashville SC heading into the exhibition game against an MLS side that made the playoffs in its first season. However, soccer is a surprising sport. It only takes one stroke of genius to be the deciding factor.