NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With Nashville SC’s official MLS debut just over a month away, supporters of the 2020 expansion club are busy preparing for their team’s inaugural season. The level of competition has been taken to another level, and fan interest is rising with it.
Clay Trainum traveled over 10,000 miles in each of Nashville’s two seasons in the USL, and while he intends to do a little less driving and more flying in 2020, he’s ready to see his team compete at the highest level. The longtime MLS fan is antsy for the star-studded season opener against Atlanta United on Feb. 29 (8 pm ET | FOX).
“I remember going to semi-pro games in Nashville with 100 people,” he said. “Seeing them play Atlanta at Nissan Stadium with players on the team that I’ve been following for years, that’s going to be the most exciting part.”
The match against the Five Stripes has been circled on every NSC supporter’s calendar, but it’s not the only one. Abel Acosta, a co-founder of La Brigada Del Oro, Nashville’s first Latin-American supporters group, points to the matchups against the Los Angeles teams.
“I think just like anybody we’re all looking forward to Atlanta United,” said Acosta. “That’s a natural rivalry and you know they’re going to bring people. More than anything, you know they’re going to bring visiting fans. Honestly, I personally, as a Latin supporter, I am looking very much forward to LA Galaxy, LAFC. Really in tune that way, and in the communication aspect a little bit.”
The back-to-back visits to LAFC and the LA Galaxy on June 27 and July 1 are a priority for a number of NSC fans. The scheduling that allows supporters to see their team on the road twice in a week with merely 12 miles separating the two venues is appealing.
It’s a far less simple affair to travel to Portland. Valair Shabilla couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take in his team’s first-ever road MLS match on March 8.
“It’s not a convenient trip – it’s anything but that, honestly,” he said. “I just needed to go because traveling away is one of the most fun memories I’ll have of MLS. We’ve all heard about the soccer culture in Portland. Being it’s the first road game, there’s no way I could miss it.”
A more familiar opponent is also one that a number of supporters intend to prioritize. Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati played to a draw six times while both were members of USL. The bad blood between the fanbases adds appeal to their clash on May 30.
“I’m planning on going to Cincinnati for sure,” said Kate Guidry, who has been following NSC since USL arrived in 2018. “I’m trying to figure out the rest for my trips.”
Added Jason Petty, the membership director of The Assembly supporters’ group: “I want to play those guys again. We already have a lot of hate between us, so just that derby-like feeling is going to be great.”