CONCACAF announces plans for Gold Cup return to Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium will once again be a part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, as it was announced Thursday afternoon the venue will host a game in the 2019 competition.

The home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans is one of 15 venues in the United States, Central America, and the Carribean that will host games for the tournament next year. Nashville joins Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Minnesota, Dallas, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Denver as host cities for the Gold Cup.

It’s been apparent over the past couple of years that Nissan Stadium has been worthy of hosting notable soccer matches. The venue drew 47,622 fans during the United States Men’s National Team 1-1 draw against Panama in a 2017 Gold Cup group stage match. There was also a fairly sizeable crowds for newly-crowned Premier League Champions Manchester City’s friendly against Tottenham Hotspur last year, which brought in over 56,000 fans. Those two matches set records for highest-attended soccer matches in the state of Tennessee.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Gold Cup back to Nashville next year,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said.

“Soccer is growing and thriving here, and CONCACAF and its teams and fans will get the same warm welcome all our visitors receive – plus a lot of loud cheers and chants ringing through Nissan Stadium. The Gold Cup will be another great showcase for ‘the beautiful game’ in our beautiful city.”

Nashville SC teased that the Gold Cup could be making a return to Music City when it tweeted out this yesterday.

Nashville SC drew 18,922 fans to its match against Pittsburgh Riverhounds March 23 at Nissan Stadium, which was the highest-attended match in the United States that particular weekend.

Which day and what round Nissan Stadium will host have not yet been determined.

 

Nashville SC hands Louisville its second-straight loss

Nashville SC sent a message to the USL on Mother’s Day that nothing comes easy at First Tennessee Park.

The Boys in Gold improved their home record to 2-0-1 with an impressive 2- 0 win against Louisville City FC. It’s Louisville second-straight loss after going unbeaten in its first six games.

It was Lebo Moloto who got Nashville SC on the board first in the 39th minute. Ropapa Mensah collected a long ball and beat a defender on the edge of the left side of the 18. He passed a low ball on the ground that both Matt LaGrassa and Moloto had their eye on, but it was Moloto who got the first-time shot off that beat the Louisville keeper. It’s LaGrassa’s first goal this season.

The second half started very chippy for both sides. Bradley Bourgeois made a run into the box that resulted in a collision with Greg Ranjitsingh as he was leaping up to collect a cross. Ranjitsingh’s back smacked up against the post from the collision, resulting in Bourgeois to receive a yellow card.

Bourgeois was one of three Nashville SC players to receive a booking this match. Liam Doyle and Taylor Washington were also marked down in the referee’s handbook.

As the match progressed, Nashville decided to lay back and absorb pressure, continuing to attack at times when needed.

Lebo Moloto turned in a brace and put the game on ice when he headed in Michael Reed’s cross from the left side of the box in the 84th minute. It’s the first time this season that a Nashville SC player has scored twice in a single game.

Quotes:

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith:

“For the first today, I think you’ve seen, against one of the top sides and under very difficult conditions, some character in this group. We saw this as a bit of a benchmark.  We’ve endured one or two difficulties. We have certainly not been at our best, but I do believe we’ll continue to improve. But, we might have just created a serious rivalry. They’re a top-side, and I’m absolutely delighted that we beat them.”

Lebo Moloto:

“I feel like I think we’ve come a long way. Had a couple of conversation with Michael Reed this week and one of the things that he said was ‘hey, we’re not a new team anymore.’ So, I think everyone’s realized that we’re not a new team. We’re a team that’s here to challenge for the number one spot, you know? I think we’ve come a long way from that first game to where we are today.”

Other notes:

-Matt Pickens finishes the game with his fifth shutout of the season, tying him with two other players in the USL for the most so far this season.

-The official attendance was announced as 8,610.

-Nashville’s defense was able to bottle up Louisville well in the first half, holding them to only one shot on target in the first half, and four the entire game.

-The win puts Nashville in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, with 12 points on the year.

Nashville SC now turns it’s attention to the local Nashville derby, where it’ll face Inter Nashville in the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday at Vanderbilt Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Nashville SC Notebook: Tell the world they’re coming home

At long last, Nashville SC is returning home to First Tennessee Park after an extensive road trip.

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The Boys in Gold are back home this Mother’s Day to take on a familiar foe in Louisville City FC. Last time these two met, it was Nashville’s first ever game in the USL regular season, losing to the defending champs 2-0.

But things are different now. Nashville has a bit of experience under its belt through the trials and tribulations experienced through this three-game road stint.

The opponent: Louisville City has been on an absolute tear in this early season. Before its first loss of the season last week against Indy Eleven, the defending USL champions had won five of their first six games. The only blemish during that stretch was a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United 2. They’re currently one point behind Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati, and boost one of the top goal scorers in the league so far in Cameron Lancaster (four goals).

What does Nashville need to do? Continuous pressure on goal would be a great way for Nashville to come away with points and possibly hand Louisville its second-consecutive loss. Ropapa Mensah’s goal last week against New York Red Bulls II came because the forwards made the Red Bulls defense make a mistake from the pressure exerted on them. If Nashville is relentless in pursuing the ball while Louisville tries to prepare an attack from the back line, good things can and will happen.

Here’s an obvious one, but Matt Pickens must continue to do Matt Pickens things. He’s currently tied with four other goalkeepers for the second most shutouts this season with four, and has been one of the reasons Nashville has picked up points in five of its last six contests. He’ll once again need to be at his best between the posts in order to ward off this effective Louisville offense which has recorded 115 shots so far.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Nashville is a different team since the first meeting about two months ago, and the home atmosphere has already shown how it can be a factor for visiting teams. However, Louisville will still have a sour taste in its mouth from dropping its first game of the season. I expect a competitive back-and-forth between these two, with both sides just missing out on collecting all three points.

Other notes

El Nashico: Nashville’s first local derby will take place this Wednesday at Vanderbilt Stadium when Nashville SC faces NPSL side Inter Nashville. Inter beat Charlotte Eagles 6-1 in its first round matchup, and now the game is drawing plenty of attention from Middle Tennessee soccer fanatics.

Turn up, the radio: Nashville SC and Nashville’s ESPN radio affiliate The Game have announced a partnership, where 94.9 will have an English broadcast for at least 20 games. The first broadcast will be this Sunday, and will include a pre and postgame match. The announcement was made Thursday morning during 102.5 The Game’s morning show, Morning Drive.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Nashville SC,” said Cromwell Radio market manager Jana Hampton in a press release.

“As a locally owned radio group, we are focused on serving the community where we live and work and we strive to give listeners Nashville’s Best Sports Talk
each day. Aligning with Nashville SC helps us deliver on those objectives. It’s a great fit.”

Roadies bringing the noise at special event: The Roadies support group will be bringing the noise for two days in a row this weekend. In addition to their normal march and support to First Tennessee Park Saturday, the group will also be out and about Saturday to support Soccer for the Nations. Soccer for the Nations is a support group that gives refugee children a chance to come together and play the beautiful game.

Additional information can be found on the group’s Facebook page event here.

Reddit reacts to Nashville SC’s draw with New York Red Bulls II

Yesterday, I was out and about kayaking. So as you can imagine, I wasn’t able watch Nashville SC’s 1-1 draw against New York Red Bulls II.

Luckily, we live in 2018, where information regarding an event is easily digested and can be reacted to within a second for millions to consume. So, like many of the things in my life, I decided to turn to Reddit and the official thread for this match to get some clarity on how this thing panned out.

Here are my findings.

Clearly, this comment is in response to Ropapa Mensah’s goal scored mere minutes into the match when the Red Bulls back line fell asleep with the ball. It’s nice to see Mensah becoming a threat to opposing defenses and being able to finish in front of goal when an opportunity like this presents itself.

Ok, what’s next?

So after perusing through social media after my expedition, it seems like this game wasn’t a top priority for those in the Harrison, New Jersey area. The attendance number says there were 652 at the stadium, but those can sometimes be grossly inflated.

I honestly can’t fault them, though. I’m not sure there was burning desire for Red Bulls fans to come out and watch their USL team when New York City is about 30 minutes away when there’s a million other things to do on a Sunday afternoon in the city. Not saying it’s not important to them, but I just don’t think it ranks fairly high in the hierarchy of things to do in that area.

Next.

So Nashville could have easily won this game with multiple chances in the final minutes, and for most of the second half as well. The best chance came with two minutes to go in regulation on this brilliant through ball that led to a shot that hit the post.

Hair-pulling, indeed.

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A fair point. With nine total shots and eight inside the box, Nashville looks like it really put the Red Bulls on their heels. Hopefully, we’ll soon stop regurgitating the notion of “the goals will come,” and the three points will begin to add up for this club still searching for consistent offensive footing.

“We’re still trying to find our identity and certainly trying to build on the experiences that we have,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“The first half I thought New York were terrific. They played at a great pace and asked a lot of questions of us. What I was most pleased about was our reaction at halftime. We looked resilient and showed aptitude and created multiple opportunities to win the game. Unfortunately, our biggest problem is hitting the back of the net. We did a marvelous job of holding a dangerous team to just one goal, but we leave with mixed emotions.”

Nashville can now turn its attention to a Mother’s Day date with Louisville City FC at First Tennessee Park, as the boys in gold look to avenge the 2-0 loss at the beginning of the season.

 

 

 

 

Old problems emerge for Nashville SC in Penn FC draw, but there’s time to fix

Although last night was the first time Nashville SC has ever faced off against Penn FC (formerly Harrisburg Islanders), the Boys in Gold still ran into a familiar foe: themselves.

A 0-0 draw Tuesday night in Pennsylvania does reward a point to both sides, and put Nashville in seventh place in the USL Eastern Conference, but the other two dropped points could have just as easily been Nashville’s to take home.

The most notable chances came from forward Robin Shroot, who started his first match since March 24 against Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Shroot put in a strong effort to get himself in front of goal. The execution was just a little off.

So now Nashville has only scored two goals in four away matches. A somewhat troubling statistic considering the club is still in the middle of a tough stretch of road games in this early season (three of the next four contests are away from First Tennessee Park).

The shots were there, with eight in total. However, only three of those were on target to test Penn FC goalkeeper Sean Lewis.

“The first half was competitive, but there were numerous mistakes from both teams. We had two or three chances that we didn’t convert,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“The second period we kept the ball and developed pressure better than we did in the first half. The amount of clear sights of goal we had as an away team. We were by far the better group. You don’t score, you can’t win. In front of goal, we fell short.”

There were some positives to pick up from this contest. Matt Pickens recorded his fourth shutout in six games, which leads all goalkeepers in the USL. Pickens finished the game with a pair of saves to preserve the goose egg.

So what needs to be done to fix the on-and-off offensive woes?

One easy fix is getting Alan Winn back into the starting lineup, who didn’t see any action during the match. Perhaps it was just because the club wanted to give Winn a chance to rest after three consecutive starts, but the long layoff upcoming for the club would have been a good opportunity for Winn to recharge his batteries, if they needed to be recharged at all. Nashville has scored at least one goal each time Winn has made an appearance in the starting lineup this season.

But the only real solution is getting plenty of reps in training in the coming days. Although it’s tough to replicate game-like scenarios in practice, getting down some shots on goal and working on the buildup to put goal scorers in the opportune position can only be beneficial.

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“We keep working in training,” said Smith.

“I can just keep trying to work our team into good areas and get good chances. I can give them new ideas, but they need to finish our chances. I am frustrated we haven’t scored. We can be encouraged by the chances, but I am disappointed to come away with just one point.”

Nashville SC will get an extended break beore its next match, as it travels up north to face New York Red Bulls II May 6.

Nashville SC notebook: Looking at the positives in a loss

Nashville SC’s two-game winning streak, and three game streak of collecting points, was snapped Saturday against Indy Eleven, losing 2-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. But despite the loss, there’s a lot of positives Nashville and its fans can take from this game.

“You’ve got to look at the positives. We built momentum when we were two goals down. To get a goal at the end of the first half, it was a positive thing going into the second half, we just didn’t put away the second chance or third chance,” said Nashville SC midfielder and captain Michael Reed.

A tale of two halves: Soony Saad had a brace for Indy in the first 34 minutes that ultimately helped Indy Eleven pull out the victory, but Nashville could have just as easily tied the game in the second half after Ropapa Mensah’s goal right before the break.

Nashville had more total shots, headed shots, and shots inside the box during the second half. Perhaps a lot of that had to do with Indy deciding to sit back and absorb pressure, but it’s still reassuring that Nashville will press the issue in an aggressive manner and get good opportunities when down.

“No doubt about it they were better than us in the first period. It’s sometimes difficult to
evaluate why,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“There were numerous occasions where the ball was lost to cheaply. I think the players found the surface more challenging to contend with than they expected and it took some time to adapt. And then you throw into that mix the very good strike for [Indy’s] second goal…We actually finished in great fashion. Scored, hit the woodwork, looked bright. We
probably didn’t want the half to end. We looked on the front foot, back in the game, and the whistle blows.”

Positive midfield possession: The Nashville midfield came out of this game looking fairly sharp as far as possession and passing accuracy goes. Both Michael Reed (90.5) and Bolu Akinyode (85) completed over 80 percent of their passes. A good sign for those who play around them that both are able to make the right connections and put teammates in the final third to make an impact on goal. Although Lebo Moloto played more as a forward than he did as a midfielder, it’s worth noting that he also completed 88 percent of his passes as well.

It’s starting to look like the Akinyode-Reed combination is the one that will take Nashville to the next level and keep them in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Both know how to distribute the ball to the forwards and control the middle of the park to disrupt opposition plays.

Quick Penn preview: Nashville now turns its attention to a trip to Harrisburg, Pa. to face Penn FC. Formerly the Harrisburg Islanders, the club was been rebranded during the offseason. They finished 11th in the Eastern Conference last season, with current Nashville SC goalscorer Ropapa Mensah leading the way in team goals scored with seven.

Penn FC currently sits in 14th place in the Eastern Conference through three games, losing the first game of the season with Charleston Battery 1-0. They tied their next two games against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-0) and Atlanta United 2 (1-1).

Roadies Walk Hard: With no game this weekend, The Nashville Roadies are hosting a Walk for Wishes Event Saturday at Bicentennial Mall State Park benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This family-friendly event will see the Roadies singing and marching with a bunch of Wish Kids from around the area. There will also be opportunities to donate to Make-A-Wish. More details can be found here.

Nashville SC notebook: Boys in Gold looking for third-straight win

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith says he’s never heard of St. Elmo’s Steakhouse in Indianapolis.

But while his culinary knowledge of the Hoosier state is lacking (not that there’s much of culinary scene there though, so it’s understandable), he has done his extensive research on his side’s next opposition, Indy Eleven.

“I am keeping an open mind as to what we will walk in to,” said Smith regarding how he’s preparing for the match.

“We will train on their match field on Friday and our staff will be looking forward to seeing what the field is like. Indoors, turf, those things all effect the game. We are keeping an open mind. What I do know is that Indy is a team in a similar position to us with a group of new players, and a new coach. They have a good strong core to that team, with McInerney and Pasher being dangerous.”

Opponent overview: Like Nashville, Indy Eleven is in its first season of the USL. Founded in 2013, the club has spent its first couple of years in the NASL. The Club finished second in the league in 2016, while also finishing first in average attendance in three of the four years. The high attendance has followed the Club to the USL, as it drew 17,000 fans to Lucas Oil Stadium in its first home game.

Indy’s defense has been the story of their season so far. Also like Nashville, it’s been tough for opposing teams to put any goals past them, allowing only one goal in three contests.

“We do see this match as more than likely being a tight one,” said Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

“Much of that has to do with being early in the season and also mirroring each other in that we are a new club playing together for only a couple of months and them having a new head coach with an overwhelming majority of new players. In that regard, I don’t envision the game being that stretched with the scoreline.”

Indy Eleven has beaten North Carolina FC and the Richmond Kickers this year, both by a score of 1-0. Its loss came against FC Cincinnati, also by the score of 1-0.

Other notes:

-Some Nashville SC players made some waves in the USL for their performances this week. Alan Winn was named to the USL team of the week. His goal against Charlotte was also named goal of the week. Pickens was nominated for USL save of the week.

-The Club is 300 season tickets away from breaking the inaugural season ticket record.

-For those streaming, the game will be on the ESPN+ streaming service as a part of the new USL streaming contract. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Central, and the game can be watched locally on MyTV30.

Prediction: 1-0 Nashville Last week, I was wrong on my prediction and overestimated Charlotte. I think Nashville is starting to figure things out in the final third. Indy’s defense will be their toughest test thus far in the season, so I could also see this game ending as a 0-0 draw.