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.

giphy1

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.

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.

9wgmd

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.

7 Things you need to know for Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

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.

giphy1

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?

giphy

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.

Nashville SC Roadies gameday spot to donate portion of gameday profits to local youth program

Pastime and the Nashville SC Roadies have partnered up to make the sports bar and grill located on the corner of 3rd Avenue North and Harrison Street the official headquarters for the Club’s support group.

It turns out that their partnership is just the underlining for a much bigger cause.

Pastime’s managing owner David Dahlroos has stated that, during gameday hours in which Nashville SC is slated to play, a portion of the eatery’s profit will go towards Soccer For The Nations. Soccer For The Nations is a startup league in the Nashville area dedicated to developing underaged soccer programs to refugees and immigrants. Dahlroos says he’ll start keeping track of sales at a certain point during game days to make sure he can get an accurate count. Those interested in donating can go here.

The relationship between the bar and the support group spawned a couple of months ago, when mutual friends for the different establishments brought up the idea of The Roadies looking for a home base for the upcoming USL season.

“We were introduced to one another, and they said, ‘we’ve heard good things about your place. Would you be willing to work with us?'” said Dahlroos.

“We’re going to try and do some really neat things with them, like set up merchandise tents. I know for some of their previous tailgates, they’ve had 300-500 people, and you need a big space to accomodate all of that. We’ve got that, with the rooftop and the big deck. We’re going to give them a couple of parking spots out front so they can have a traditional tailgate sense to it. We want to make them as comfortable as possible.”

The opportunity to make Pastime the gameday headquarters for The Roadies seemed like a no-brainer on paper. The bar would certainly be able to support the mass amount looking to get their fill of eats and drinks beforehand. It’s also about a six-minute walk (or march, depending on your preferance) to First Tennessee Park as well.

But Dahlroos is no stranger to accomodating to large fanbases during games. His business was the official watch spot for the Tennessee Vols this past season, and fans of the Titans and Predators also frequent his bar whenever the respective teams are out of town and they need somewhere to watch the game.

A native of the Franklin area growing up, Dahlroos is just as excited as the rest of the Middle Tennessee community about professional soccer making its way to Music City.

“I think it’s great,” said Dahlroos.

“Nashville is such a great hotspot. All of investments are coming in here from all over the country, and then you add the Predators success. You saw the true passion of the city, and everybody wants to be a part of it. I think it’s going to be huge. Everybody is going to want to get behind it, and if it sees any type of success, it’s going to explode.”