Nashville SC Fans Drive over 1,000 Miles to Watch Win over Hartford Athletic
NASHVILLE - Hartford, Connecticut is over 1,000 miles from Nashville, making it the longest domestic road trip for Nashville Soccer Club this season (Ottawa, Ontario is marginally farther away).
However, that didn't stop a group of Nashville SC fans from making the 15-hour drive to watch the Boys in Gold beat Hartford Athletic 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. The group of five friends met up with other gold-clad fans that had made the trip to Connecticut, standing together in the rain to cheer Nashville SC to victory.
The trip might have been lengthy, but it was worth it to see a great Nashville win.
"I'd recommend it to any other fan that's thought about it," said Denzell Bowers, who made the trek to Hartford with his friends Travis, Omari, Jon and Jossimar. "It's just a fun experience. It gives you a sense of pride when you're far away from where you live and you're representing your city, your colors. You look around and there are other people that have the same colors. It doesn't make you less of a fan for not going, but I think all of our fans should at least try it once just to really get a feel of the environment. It's special, it really is special. I'd love to do it again."
The idea for the road trip came about in a group chat between Bowers and a few of his friends when they realized Nashville SC wouldn't play at home for over a month. Slowly but surely, everyone got time off from work or school to make the trip up to Hartford. The five of them took turns at the wheel on the lengthy drive to Hartford.
On matchday, the Nashville SC fans gathered outside of Rentschler Field and got to hang out with Hartford's supporters, who were more than happy to see some opposing fans make the trip.
"I feel like they were really happy just to have other away fans there because their location isn't ideal with having just MLS reserve teams around them with Bethlehem and New York," said Travis Poole, who drove up with Bowers and their friends. "They don't necessarily have many traveling fans come see them. I think it was good for them as well, just having people they can heckle from across the stadium. At the tailgate itself, they were very hospitable, very nice. They were just overall excited for us. A lot of them are excited for us in MLS and some were saying they're going to be fans of us when MLS comes, so I'm pretty excited about that too."
In the second half of the match, Nashville SC attacked the goal closest to the Nashville fans in attendance. That meant Bowers, Poole, and the other fans had a perfect vantage point for Cameron Lancaster's 85' minute stunner that won Nashville the match.
"I went blank for a second because I was watching the passes around, and he was so casual about it," Bowers said. "When it went in, just blankness. I watched the game back, you could probably see us on camera. Everybody just went ballistic. I think that was one we kind of knew we were going to put them away, but it was just madness."
After the match, the players saluted the traveling fans and made sure to thank them for making the trip. The close relationship between the fans and the players is one of the many reasons why the fans are willing to drive across the country to cheer them on.
"It changes the mood for not only us, but for the players," said Poole of the strong Nashville presence in Hartford. "They look up and they see even just 10 Nashville fans all standing together behind the goal, I feel like it's a morale booster as well if they think 'our fans are here for us.' That's ultimately why we want to be there: for them, to show that we're here for them no matter what."
Lancaster's goal and the Nashville victory made the 15-hour car ride back to Nashville much more enjoyable. As for the rest of this season, Bowers, Poole and the rest of their friends want to catch as many Nashville SC road matches as possible. With the longest trip of the season under their belts, they're looking forward to some more slightly shorter trips.
"This is the longest domestic trip that Nashville makes in the Eastern Conference, so we figured we'd hit that up," Poole said. "It would make any other away trips seem like nothing."
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