Once they begin MLS play as an expansion team in 2020, Nashville SC will maintain a presence in USL, but it almost certainly won't be in the city of Nashville.
Speaking to The Tennessean, Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre said that "it's not feasible to have two teams in Nashville," meaning that the incoming expansion side will likely go a different route with their affiliation than teams like Atlanta, Orlando, Portland and Toronto, who operate USL affiliates that are locally based.
However, Ayre clarified that they will definitely be joining 19 other MLS teams in affiliating with a team in either the USL Championship or USL League One.
MLS teams have gone several different directions in terms of the level of affiliation they have with USL sides. Teams including Atlanta, FC Dallas, and the New York Red Bulls own and operate their own teams, while three teams (Houston, San Jose and Seattle), have a hybrid affiliation with USL teams whereby they control all on-field aspects of their affiliate but not business operations. Still other teams have affiliations where they control neither the technical nor business sides, but can still send their players on loan.
“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.”
For more from Ayre on Nahsville's future plans for USL, be sure to head over to The Tennessean.