As planning to begin MLS play in 2020 continues, Nashville SC says it has not made a final decision on the status of its USL Championship club.
Nashville SC began Division II USL play in 2018, ahead of the 2020 launch of a Nashville MLS expansion team. The MLS squad will play under the Nashville SC name, competing at Nissan Stadium for two seasons before opening a new soccer-specific stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville in 2022.
With the MLS launch approaching, Nashville SC is still trying to determine what will become of its USL Championship side. Club CEO Ian Ayre does not believe there is room for two professional clubs in Nashville, but says that the organization wants a USL affiliation once it begins MLS play. What has yet to be determined is whether that affiliation will be with USL’s existing Nashville SC entry after its relocated to another market, or with another USL Championship squad entirely. More from The Tennessean:
“It’s not feasible to have two teams in Nashville,” Ayre said. “So, that almost certainly won’t happen. As to what the final position is, we’re just not far enough down the track to talk about that.
“We’ll definitely have some level of affiliation, whether it’s with our existing team potentially in another market or whether we do something different to that.”
As of March 15, 2018, 19 MLS teams had a USL affiliation — the equivalent to a minor league or developmental league team — according to the MLS website. Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United all have affiliated teams in the USL Championship that play locally.
“We absolutely have to have some form of an affiliate USL presence,” Ayre said. “What that ends up working out as we haven’t decided quite yet, although we are in discussions with various people on that.”
It is not unusual for an USL team to be moved once MLS enters the scene: the current Louisville USL Championship squad began life in Orlando, but was moved and sold when Orlando City launched in MLS.
Nashville SC has played the bulk of its USL home matches at First Tennessee Park–primarily the home of baseball’s Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)–with some select games staged at Nissan Stadium.
Photo courtesy Nashville SC.