At Nashville SC's home debut, I saw what I expected

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – I’d hoped to see something different than I expected. But in their home opener at Nissan Stadium, Nashville SC looked like what I suspected it would look like: A middling minor league soccer club.


Sure, it’s the ground floor for professional soccer in Music City. Still, on another wet day in front of a pretty good crowd, they gave us good goalkeeping and really nothing else to be remotely excited about en route to a scoreless draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

Early on Nashville boomed hopeful, fruitless balls into the box. It wasn’t only uninventive, it didn’t hint at any desire to be creative.

It came out of that eventually, but had little to no success building any sustained possession and couldn’t move the ball around to test different areas of Riverhounds SC’s defense.

Rather Nashville rarely made any significant, threatening connecting pass that got it in position to threaten real danger. There was a lack of offensive skill beyond a pretty, sidewinding volley from Lebo Moloto off a corner that was the home team's best look at the goal. It bounced harmlessly off a defender.

The visitors took far more control after the half and didn’t win only because Nashville’s red-clad Matt Pickens made a few really good stops in goal. He bounced up after diving deflections to scream at his defense which had some organizational issues but fared well enough. Pittsburgh’s Christiano Francois hit a post on a great chance.

Pickens looked good in his nice red combo. With regard to its primary colors, the game was a disaster.

Interested Nashvillians know the home team wears gold and blue, like the Predators. (It’s actually yellow, but everyone likes to sound fancy).

The team announced attendance of 18,922 and it would have been better if there was some sun -- it sold over 20,000 tickets. Fans who came found commemorative yellow towels on their seats -- handy on a wet evening.

I scored suite tickets through my radio station, 104.5 The Zone. Several people sitting near me presumed, somewhat naturally, that their side was also the one in the uniforms matching the towels. It took more yellow -- a yellow card shown to a Riverhound -- for them to figure out it wasn’t the case.

Alas, for Nashville’s first home match the USL gave them an opponent that follows the Steelers-Pirates-Penguins color scheme, and the bumble bees on the Nissan Stadium pitch were Pittsburgers.IMG 7396

The visitors could have worn their white or yellow jerseys and chose wisely, turning a key visual element of the match into a striking marketing failure. Here, wave this towel that's the color of the team you're rooting against.

With a loss and a tie through two games in its first USL season, Nashville SC is 0-1-1 and has not scored a goal.

Surely it’ll grow and the patient people will be rewarded. While it was easy to grab a soft pretzel or a beer, the souvenir stand on the east side had deep lines 20 minutes before kickoff.

It’s nothing short of stunning how many people are diving all in right from the beginning, rather than waiting for the real thing.  I'm confident they are ready and willing to wait it out and watch it grow.

Those more skeptical of minor-league soccer, like me, went home more impatient – eager for the 2019 or 2020 graduation to Major League Soccer.

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