What to Watch for as Nashville SC Opens Its 2021 MLS Campaign against FC Cincinnati
NASHVILLE - It's soccer season in Tennessee.
Nashville SC begins its second Major League Soccer season this Saturday with a matchup against FC Cincinnati at Nissan Stadium, pres. by Jackson. It will be a clash that's all-too-familiar to longtime Nashville fans, as this rivalry dates back to both clubs' tenure in the USL Championship.
Limited single match tickets are still available here.
Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's home opener:
Date: Saturday, April 17
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: Nissan Stadium
Tickets: Click Here
In-Market Stream: NashvilleSC.com/stream
Out-of-Market Stream: ESPN+
English Radio: ESPN 94.9
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
New Era, Old Rivals
This will be the first meeting between Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati in MLS regular season competition. However, these two fanbases will be relatively familiar with each other, having faced off four times in the clubs' USL Championship era in 2018. All four matches between the two clubs ended in a draw, with FC Cincinnati advancing on penalties during their final meeting in the second division.
The clubs also faced off in a preseason friendly in 2020, with Nashville SC coming away victorious.
Saturday's matchup will see an FC Cincinnati that has retooled its attack this offseason after scoring a meager 12 goals in 23 matches last season. Young Brazilian forward Brenner and former D.C. United star Luciano Acosta joined the club for its third MLS season and will look to provide a more creative look in the attacking third of the pitch.
"Our process normally entails a lot of thorough scouting on the other team," Nashville SC defender Dan Lovitz said. "For a team like Cincinnati that's had a lot of turnover, it's difficult to know what you're going up against. I think something we're trying to create in terms of a culture is 'can we focus on ourselves and be the aggressors in the game to the point where the other team is reacting to us?' We think that if we can perfect both sides of the ball, be aggressive, be on the front foot, and just play an exciting brand of soccer that's going to create points and a great atmosphere at home, that will help us out a lot."
Nashville SC was one of the top stories in MLS last season, taking the Audi MLS Cup Playoff field by surprise. The Boys in Gold caught fire near the end of the 2020 season, earning points in six of its final eight matches of the regular season, which helped propel the club to a berth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. --- The berth was for Play-in game, not the Eastern Conference... once NSC got to the playoffs, then they reached the Semis.
According to Lovitz, this team is looking forward to building upon that foundation.
"We're proud of last year, but we don't believe that counts for much right now," Lovitz said. "Everyone's starting at the same point and we need to go about our business in a way that will keep us in the same conversation to keep us in a position where we want to be. Our season ended short last year, so we want to make sure we can right that wrong and continue to push towards a championship."
The Fan Factor
Saturday's match will be played in front of a 40% capacity crowd at Nissan Stadium, the highest percentage allowed since the club's opening night on Feb. 29, 2020. Limited tickets are still available here.
The players are looking forward to the energy boost that will provide.
"It's fantastic news, especially for us starting the season at home," McCarty said. "If we look back to last year and our first home game against Atlanta, the energy in the electricity was unbelievable and it was something I still remember to this day as one of the better experiences and better atmospheres I've ever played in. We know our fans are extremely excited to get back into the stadium. Even in the playoffs against Inter Miami with the limited number of people in there, you still felt their presence, you still felt their energy. We have to use that. We have to feed off of that crowd."
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