A pair of USL expansion clubs celebrated milestones over the weekend, as both Nashville SC and Las Vegas Lights FC hosted MLS teams in exhibitions.
While their regular season debuts are still a few weeks away, Nashville SC and Las Vegas Lights FC gave their fans a taste of soccer action over the weekend. On Saturday, both teams hosted MLS clubs in exhbitions, with Nashville SC and Atlanta United FC squaring off at First Tennessee Park, while Cashman Field was the site of Lights FC’s matchup against the Montreal Impact.
There will be considerable attention paid to Nashville this season, as the city’s MLS expansion bid has already been approved, paving the way for a new stadium to open at The Faigrounds Nashville in the coming years. In the interim, Nashville SC’s establishment at First Tennessee Park figures to be a major storyline. The exhibition against Atlanta drew a crowd of 9,059, with United defeating Nashville 3-1.
Despite the on-field result, the atmosphere turned out to be one of the highlights of the affair, with players noting the enthusiasm of the fans in attendance. More from The Tennessean:
It might’ve been a dreary day because of the weather, however, that didn’t stop First Tennessee Park from feeling like a soccer atmosphere. The Nashville supporter group, located next to the third-base dugout, was constantly singing and keeping the energy level high.
“Credit to the city of Nashville coming out and supporting us,” Nashville goalie Matt Pickens said. “Hopefully, they got a good show. When you look at the whole thing, realistically we’ve been together 12, 13 days so hopefully this gives (the fans) a little taste of what we’re about. And we got to see what they’re about as well.”
Atlanta fans came out in droves and braved the rain. There might’ve been some criticism when Nashville was chosen to be an MLS expansion franchise, but the fan base showed on Saturday that it can indeed create a soccer atmosphere.
Meanwhile, at Cashman Field, Lights FC dropped its exhibition, losing to Montreal by a final of 2-0. As was the case in Nashville, however, fan support for the Las Vegas exhbition was strong. A crowd of 10,387 turned out for the match, bringing a unique atmosphere to Cashman Field. More from The Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The United Soccer League club brought out fans early for its pregame tailgate party, had a sellout crowd of 10,387 at its first match at Cashman Field and got its supporters’ section chanting early and often throughout the game. The team ended up selling standing-room only tickets and delayed kickoff to get its big crowd into its stadium, but once the match started Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact proved to be the better side.
Nashville SC and Las Vegas Lights FC are two of the four expansion teams that are new to the USL this year, joining Fresno FC and Atlanta United 2. Along with those four expansion clubs, the 33-team USL is also welcoming North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven from the NASL.
Image courtesy Nashville SC.