Saturday night’s opener for the Nashville Soccer Club’s season opener against the Atlanta United Football Club was one for the books. With a record-setting attendance of 59,069 for their MLS debut, Nashville fans showed we are a soccer city and we are not going anywhere. There was excitement in the air from the time you hit the parking lot, around the concourse, into the stadium, and even in the bathroom.
Nashville based band Judah & the Lion opened the evening with a mini-concert including the official club anthem, “Never Give Up On You” and Grammy award winner Lzzy Hale from the band Halestorm marked the official start of the match with a Gibson Guitar riff.
Atlanta was first on the board with a goal just before the nine-minute mark of the first half. Nashville tried several times to answer but came up short. Nashville’s goalkeeper, Joe Williams, did make some good saves to keep Atlanta from scoring back to back points.
Nashville did get on the board 28 minutes in with a free-kick. However, about seven minutes before half-time Atlanta scored again with what would be the last goal of the game.
The experience was unique compared to a pro football game with the Titans, hockey game with the Predators, or minor league baseball game with the Sounds. The crowds were pleasant, the passion for the game was amazing, and the comradery was refreshing. From the man a few rows down who was fist-bumping other attendees as they entered the stadium to the polite claps from the crowd even when a goal was missed, it was a delightful experience.
There were a few takeaways from this game that could elevate the next match. First, don’t underestimate the crowds that will lead to increased traffic. We left in what we thought was plenty of time. We did not expect massive lane rerouting and blocked entrances to parking. Even the Waze app did not have the correct info for the need to take an alternate route. Second, which goes hand in hand with the above, is to get to the match early to take part in tailgating and pre-match festivities.
The next home game is Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 1:00 PM CT against Columbus Crew SC at Nissan Stadium. For the full schedule visit https://www.nashvillesc.com/schedule.