Nashville SC celebrated a milestone on Saturday, when it played its home-opening match in front of over 18,000 spectators at Nissan Stadium.
Across the professional soccer scene in the United States, few cities have had more recent momentum than Nashville. In December, MLS formally approved a bid to place an expansion franchise in the city, with that club set to begin play in the coming years and eventually move into a planned soccer-specific stadium in the city. This year, meanwhile, marks the debut of Nashville SC, the city’s new USL franchise.
Nashville SC will regularly play home games at First Tennessee Park, a venue originally constructed for its other tenant, baseball’s Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). However, a high demand for tickets prompted the club to shift its March 24 home opener against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
That move paid off, with a reported crowd of 18,922 seeing Nashville and Pittsburgh play to a 0-0 draw. That fell short of the USL inaugural home opener record of 20,231 fans drawn by Sacramento Republic FC in 2014, but the large crowd contributed to a unique atmosphere. More from The Tennessean:
Nashville SC fell short of the USL inaugural home opener attendance record of 20,231, but the fans who came to the game made their impact.
“In a way, we felt like we let them down a little bit by not getting the three points, by not getting the goal they wanted,” goalkeeper Matt Pickens said. “They were really lively today. You could hear them when we were moving forward and when we got corners. Even at the final whistle, you could hear them groan, saying, ‘I wanted more!’”
On its own, the debut of Nashville SC promises to be one of the more noteworthy aspects of the 2018 USL season, but the broader development of professional soccer in the city makes the club all more intriguing. With its successful MLS expansion bid and debut of a new USL club, Nashville has considerably bolstered its soccer scene in recent months, and Saturday’s showing certainly reflected that momentum.
Image from February exhibition courtesy Nashville SC.
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