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 hosts inaugural home opener, draws with Pittsburgh

Nashville SC made its first home stand in the United Soccer League one to remember Saturday at Nissan Stadium with a 0-0 draw against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The Club came up just short of breaking the inaugural season home opener attendance record set by Sacramento Republic in 2014 with a crowd of 20,231. Nashville SC vs. Pittsburgh drew a crowd of 18,922.

The announcement was made in the 60th minute of the game. Fans were eager to share their experience of this historical event on social media.

 

Nashville elected to make two changes to the starting lineup from last week. Tucker Hume replaced Michael Cox, and Bradley Bourgeois took the place of London Woodberry, who was out with an injury.

The Boys in Gold dominated nearly every analytical statistic in the first half, but were unable to really get anything going on goal as far as shots with only recorded on target. Their best chance came from Lebo Moloto in the 40th minute, but it went right at the keeper.

Pittsburgh came out the aggressor in the second half, however, with four shots and two on target. Matt Pickens was up to the task, recording two saves and his first clean sheet of the regular season. He was awarded man of the match.

There were a couple of bookings in the second half. Lebo Moloto received a yellow for a tough foul that was played as an advantage for Pittsburgh, while Ropapa Mensah was booked for accidentally running into the goalie.

Moloto almost had an early contender for goal of the season in the 78th minute.

Althought Nashville SC had a couple of late chances to test the Pittsburgh defense, nothing came of them.

Nashville SC will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. March 31 to play against Bethlehem Steel. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT.

History awaits at Nissan Stadium, so what does Nashville SC need to do to pick up points?

At long last, Nashville SC is mere hours away from hosting its inaugural USL season opener. The event was in such high demand, it had to be moved to a bigger venue. Now, Nissan Stadium prepares to host a match between the home town Boys in Gold and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The opponent: The Riverhounds are led by new coach Bob Lilley. Lilley previously coached at the Rochester Rhinos in two previous stints (2009-2011, 2014-2017) before making his way down to West Pennsylvania. Prior to his arrival, the Riverhounds went 8-12-12 last season. However, the Riverhounds have somewhat reshaped with the arrival of Lilley and are an opponent that should not be underestimated.

“I honestly don’t think you can look at records from last year. Pittsburgh didn’t have the best of seasons and there’s a lot of changes there,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“New coach, six or seven players brought over from Rochester with him that will understand his style and appreciate what the coach wants out of the team.” “They’re a side that’s starting their season. This is their first game, bye-weekend last weekend, and any team that come in a brand new season has aspirations of doing well. In the first game, if you’re not going to get a group of players that are going to give everything, they’re going to chase, shut down, they’re going to fight for every ball and they’re going to want to stay in the game. They’re going to, as much as possible, walk away from it with something.”

So what does Nashville SC need to do in order to pick up its first points of the season? Here are a couple of things.

1.  Know the terrain:

Nissan Stadium is easily going to be one of the best fields both teams will play on all season. Having practiced on the field already, Nashville SC will have an advantage in that department in knowing how fast the ball will travel on the pitch. The pitch is also very wide, which also benefits the style of play Nashville SC wants to execute in getting the wing players involved in the offense.

“The pitch is massive. I think that suits our style well,” said defender/winger Taylor Washington.

Speaking of wing play…..

2. Keep Kosuke Kimura involved: 

Kimura was Nashville’s most effective player on offense during last week’s game against Louisville. He was able to execute 10 long passes, second behind goalkeeper Matt Pickens, with most of those long passes being crosses. He also kept Louisville defenders on edge with his footwork and quickness. With such a wide pitch to work with in this home opener, it would be wise to get Kimura as many touches as possible so he can help create opportunities with his crosses.

3. Great wall of Pickens: 

Despite giving up two goals in his Nashville SC regular season debut, Matt Pickens had a strong game. He commanded the backfield well, was strong at reading the crosses, and knew exactly when to stand his ground. He’ll once again need to be a wall between the posts, and a general in the backfield.

4. Forwards need heavy pressure:

The forward conundrum for Nashville SC seems to have carried over from the preseason to last week’s game against Louisville. Smith revealed that he could do some tinkering with the forward line for this game, but did not go into details. Whoever lines up at the top will need to pressure Pittsburgh’s backline and force them to make bad passes out of the backfield, thus leading to Nashville possessions and possible shots on goal.

5. Feed off the crowd: 

There’s no doubt that the atmosphere at Nissan Stadium will be electric come Saturday, and Nashville SC must feed off that. Depending on what happens in MLS this weekend, there’s a chance this game being the biggest soccer crowd in the United States over the weekend. The possibility of breaking Sacramento Republic’s attendance mark of 20,231 for the USL unaugural home opener record is still in play, with over 18,000 tickets sold so far according to the club.

“The atmosphere will play a huge part with us on the field. We have over 17,000 people coming, and I’m excited for the boys to put on a good show for (the fans),” said Washington.

“It’s not everyday you get to play at Nissan Stadium in front of 17,000 fans. Even playing in front of 10,000 at First Tennessee is a great opportunity, but there is something special when your cleats hit that metal here.”

Prediction: 1-1. The home field advantage and atmosphere will have a lot to do with how well Nashville plays and controls the tempo of the game. However, I still think this team is trying to figure out what works best as far as the combination of forwards go, thus hindering them from picking up all three points.

Nashville SC notebook: Putting the Louisville City loss behind, with a chance at history this weekend

Nashville SC’s opening weekend in the United Soccer League could have been better, but it also could have been worse.

A 2-0 loss to defending champions Louisville City FC on less than ideal pitch conditions is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s not the end of the world.

Luke Spencer scored in 56th minute on a header, and Niall McCabe doubled the tally in the 66th minute off a deflected save from Matt Pickens trying to stop a low cross. The team will be looking over the tape of the game later, and assess what needs to be done.

“The conclusion is a really simplistic one,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith, who breifly spoke with the media Monday morning.

“I though we competed for large portions of the game very well. The big difference we can imagine, is that Louisville are a very good side. They’ve managed that field, and have won a championship, and are very comfortable in the way they play there. I think, at vital moments, they were able to make it count.”

A couple of takeaways from Saturday’s game:

-Matt Picken was awesome. The experienced goalie knew exactly when to come out for crosses and when to hold his ground when those dangerous balls were played into the area. To the surprise of no one, he’s going to be  a big reason why Nashville SC are competitive in games.

-The forward play from Nashville SC has to be able to test the opposing keeper. Now, a lot of this might have to do with the tight dimensions of Louisville’s pitch, but there weren’t a lot of really creative chances from the front line. For my money, Kosuke Kimura was the best player on offense for Nashville. He made the Louisville defenders on the flank fairly uncomfortable at times with his quickness and ability to play lurking crosses. Other than him, Nashville was fairly limited on offense, only recording two shots on target.

-With such a good preseason under his belt, It really surprised me when Alan Winn was not chosen to come off the bench in order to try and get something going on the offensive side. His speed and energy off the bench might have caused panic in Louisville’s defense in a game where Nashville was already lacking any explosive play.

Looking forward to Pittsburgh: The Riverhounds will now come to town to face Nashville SC in Music City’s home opener at Nissan Stadium. Despite only two seasons with an above .500 record in the past decade in various USL leagues, Pittsburgh is not a team Nashville SC cannot overlook.

“(There’s been) a lot of changes on the staff, as they have began to piece together their roster for this year,” said Smith.

Pittsburgh’s current coach, Bob Lilley, is beginning his first season with the Riverhounds after spending the past couple of years with the Rochester Rhinos in two different stints (2009-2011, 2014-2017). The Riverhounds did not play in a USL match during the opening weekend, but scrimmaged Villanova instead. They lost that scrimmage 1-0.

Nashville inching close to possible record USL crowd: Of course, the big news leading up to this week is if Nashville SC will break the USL’s inaugural home opener attendance record at 20,231. According to the club, around 16,000 tickets have already been sold for the match, which will take place at Nissan Stadium.

“There’s already a wonderful basis and foundational level for tickets sold. I’m sure this week, leading into the game, it’s going to switch a lot of the local fan base and supporters within the city towards the event,” said Smith.

“There’s a fabulous chance that we’re not only going to have a great crowd, but we’re going to be close to that number. Nevertheless, even if it doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll have tremendous support. For a side that’s going to be playing their first game at home, we’re going to need that.”

You can purchase tickets to Nashville SC’s home opener here.

Nashville SC Notebook: Postmatch Reactions, Venue Changes, and What’s Next?

It’s been two days since Nashville SC’s inaugural match against Atlanta United, and there’s a lot to digest from the soccer schmorgesborg from those who decided to indulge by either experiencing the match first hand or by watching it.

In case you missed the match, here’s a quick recap of how things went down.

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Just kidding. Here’s a bit of a more accurate glimpse courtesy of Nashville SC”s Twitter page.

Nashville lost to Atlanta United 3-1, but the losing effort saw lots of positives from the Boys in Gold, most notably Ropapa Mensah’s goal in the second half for Nashville SC’s first goal in club history.

Mensah did not start the match, but came on as a sub in the second half. I expect his role to increase as he becomes more acclimated with the club. His clinical finishing ability and skill on the ball is easily noticable in practice.

Who else stood really stood out in the match for Nashville? There were a couple:

Matt Pickens: Pickens only recorded one save in the game, but it was a big one he took off the chest in the late stages of the first half, and it helped preserve a clean sheet in the first half. His verbal ability to keep the back line organized was also key, and he handled most crosses in traffic reasonably well.

Lebo Moloto: The South African native was a catalyst in the middle of the park. He never backed down from any of the challenges Atlanta United posed, and connected on a bevy of passes to help set up his teammates on the offensive end of the pitch.

Alan Winn: The former Tarheel delivered the assist to Mensah on a low cross after collecting Tucker Hume’s flick on. Winn could be a vital piece to this roster moving forward. He has speed for days, and is no stranger to playing under the big lights after playing all four years at the University of North Carolina where he racked up plenty of accolades.

CHANGE IN VENUE?

During Nashville SC’s match broadcast, a brief promo flashed across the screen. It appeared to indicate that Nashville SC will host its first USL match March 24 against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds inside Nissan Stadium.

The club officially released a statement confirming this news Monday afternoon. It makes sense, considering that 104.5 The Zone will be holding its annual Sportsfest inside First Tennessee Park, the same day as The Club’s first game. The radio station already clarified that it had nothing to do with Nashville SC making the move to Nissan Stadium, but it does bring up an interesting topic of discussion.

There could be nights in the coming schedule where both the Sounds and Nashville SC have a home game. This could mean that it won’t be the only time this year that Nissan Stadium is the home venue for Nashville SC. Some have griped that spreading out the fans in a large venue like Nissan Stadium will hinder the experience, but this is unfortunately one of the cons of having to share a stadium with a team who plays at the same of year. Tickets for the match will be available Feb. 20, with kickoff time slated for 5 p.m.

What’s next for Nashville SC?

The club now has a week of training to work on a couple of tactical changes before traveling down to Bradenton, Fla., to the IMG Academy to play two more preseason games, Chicago Fire Feb. 21 and Ottowa Fury FC Feb. 23, before wrapping up the trip to the Sunshine State with a Feb. 25 match against Orlando City SC.

Here’s how Nashville SC lined up against Atlanta United. There could be a personnel change or two in the next match, but it could remain put.

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