Nashville SC notebook: MLS coming in 2019? Not Quite

Yesterday seemed like it was going to be a normal start to the week.

Until this tweet from SportsBusiness Journal’s Ian Thomas got sent out.

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Thomas’ tweet came as a result of the joint North American 2026 World Cup bid packet, where it stated on page 97, that “(Nashville) was recently awarded the 24th expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS), Nashville SC, which will start playing in the league in 2019.”

This raised the eyebrows of fans and those who cover the team alike. Nashville SC told 615 Formation it had nothing to announce regarding this.

However, the wording in the packet turned out to be a mistake. The United Bid Committee reached out to multiple outlets, including our friends at Music City Soccer and The Nashville Business Journal, stating, “The United Bid Committee’s section on Nashville in the World Cup bid submission inaccurately states the first season for the new Nashville MLS expansion club. MLS has confirmed the new Nashville expansion team will not begin playing in the league in 2019 and a start date has not been finalized.”

Now, the last couple of words of this statement do leave open the possibility of Nashville SC playing in MLS in 2019, as “a start date has not been finalized” leaves the door open in case both Nashville SC and the MLS believe the club is ready to make the leap.

Like many, I’m of the belief that Nashville SC should wait until 2020 to begin play. By then, the team will have two seasons of professional soccer under its belt, the new stadium at the fairgrounds will have been built, and a steady fan base will have been established to help draw interest.

But enough of that, let’s get into some more fun stuff.

What to make of the 0-0 draw: There’s a lot to digest from Nashville’s draw with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The most notable is that the attacking third is still lacking some edge, despite the strong possession play throughout most of the match. Nashville SC coach Gary Smith does think the goals will start to fall soon as this team begins to build a rapport.

“Scoring a goal in general is the toughest part,” said Smith.

“We have extremely talented players who play in that final third, but to get them on the same page, and feel and feed off of each other in vital moments is going to take a little bit of time. What you’re seeing is a group that has come together very quickly. They’ve got a good concept of how we want to play. As a group, however, we’ve got a point on the board, and a clean sheet. We take a step forward in that respect, and we have plenty of work in that front line.”

We’ll see if Smith decides to make another shift in the forward line in the next game in order to create some spark.

Some of the most notable performances include:

Matt Pickens: Pickens once again put in a stellar performance, finishing the game with a pair of saves and recording the club’s first clean sheet in the USL. His best save came on a shot right outside the 18 that was going to Picken’s right post. The goalie was able to stretch out and prevent the Riverhounds from putting a goal on the board.

Lebo Moloto: Moloto was easily the most efficient player on the offensive side for Nashville. Although his passing accuracy was down from the last match, he still recorded three shots, including this acrobatic one which might have been an early contender for goal of the season.

The fans: Yes, the fans. In case you haven’t heard, Nashville’s home opener drew a crowd of 18,922 at Nissan Stadium. While that mark might have not broken the USL inaugural home opener record, it  was recognized as the highest attended soccer match on U.S. soul over the weekend. While Nashville SC as a team continues to develop, this is a great sign that the interest in professional soccer here is growing fast.

Roadies announce event for a great cause: The Roadies, Nashville SC’s oldest support group, have announced their Blue Out: Roadie Rally event. The event will take place at Pastime April 7 before Nashville SC’s home match against Charlotte Independence. The group will be teaming up with Autism Tennessee and selling blue T-shirts in order to raise autism awareness.

All shirt purchases and 3% of all food and drink sales at Pastime that afternoon will be donated to Autism Tennessee. Those interested can purchase shirts here.

What’s next?: Nashville SC will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. this weekend to take on Bethlehem Steel. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT.

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