Nashville SC made their much-awaited MLS debut in front of a record-setting crowd against Atlanta United on Saturday night. Here are three things we learned.
MLS is back! And while the opening day serves as a cultural holiday for soccer fans alike, the occasion felt a little more special in the Volunteer State this year as Nashville SC made their much-awaited home debut in the weekend’s marquee matchup against their neighbor to the south, Atlanta United.
While Nashville may not have earned the result they were hoping for in a 2-1 loss to the reigning U.S. Open Cup champions, the club did give us a glimpse of what could be to come over the course of the season.
Here are three things we learned from Saturday night’s triumphant spectacle at Nissan Stadium.
3. Nashville expansion a new model
Nashville proved that they do not necessarily fit either of the two molds that we’ve come to know from expansion teams over the past few seasons. We’ve experienced the Atlanta United/LAFC model where clubs spent millions to acquire ‘win-now’ talent, and the Minnesota/Cincinnati model, where the clubs relied heavily on MLS veterans and USL hopefuls to carry them through a slower roster-building process.
Nashville has instead taken a more balanced approach, spending big on talents such as Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal, and Walker Zimmerman, while also incorporating productive MLS mainstays into their line-up, including Dax McCarty, Anibal Godoy, and Daniel Lovitz.
The result of this build yielded a competitive squad that only conceded two goals against one of the best attacking teams in the league. In comparison to the other lower-spending expansion teams of late, FC Cincinnati conceded four in their debut and Minnesota shipped five. So while Nashville may not yet be a playoff contender, they are not destined to be the wooden spoon like their predecessors.