NASHVILLE (February 9, 2018) – It’s here. On Saturday at 3:00pm in front of a sellout crowd, Nashville SC will take the field for the first time. What has taken years to build will come to fruition when eleven players sporting the Nashville SC crest will take on one of the best teams in the country in Atlanta United FC.
While head coach Gary Smith will have his team ready to play, the result won’t be the biggest storyline from the match. When the whistle blows on Saturday afternoon, it will mark the triumphant beginning of a new era of pro soccer in Music City.
There is, however, 90 minutes to be played on Saturday and both teams will be looking for a result in their first action of the calendar year. Let’s break it down.
NASHVILLE SC STORYLINES
Chemistry - Twenty-six Nashville SC players will play together for the first time. The club has had two full weeks of practice to get comfortable and familiar with one another. It’s one thing to link up well together in practice, it’s another to do it in a game.
Inaugural Starting XI - Who will start in Nashville SC’s first-ever match? There are plenty of juicy battles to be had throughout Nashville SC’s lineup. One of the more straightforward position competitions will be in net between seasoned veteran and MLS Cup Champ Matt Pickens and up-and-coming talent C.J. Cochran. Both should get a chance to play on Saturday.
The Backline - Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith has alluded to a 5-man backline. With plenty of experience at the defender position, it would make sense for Nashville SC to get as many of them on the field as possible. Defenders Kosuke Kimura, London Woodberry and Justin Davis all come to Nashville SC with MLS experience.
ATLANTA UNITED STORYLINES
Barco - The big question for all Atlanta fans, and probably all soccer fans in general, is – Will Ezequiel Barco make his debut on Saturday? The 18-year-old Argentinian midfielder has already dazzled in his young career in Argentina Primera’s Division. He now gets to add his talents to AUFC’s already potent offense.
Offense - Speaking of that offense, the firepower is back for Atlanta United. Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and Co. again lead the line for one of the best offenses in MLS last season. Nashville SC’s defense will have its hands full stopping the “5 Stripes.”
MLS & USL - New this season for Atlanta United will be ATL UTD 2, a USL team. Competing alongside Nashville SC in the Eastern Conference, the second team will surely boast some of the young talent being developed in Atlanta’s youth academy. Will fans see some of that youth on Saturday? It will definitely be intriguing who Atlanta plays on Saturday.
The crowd, the pomp, the atmosphere. For soccer fans in Nashville, this day has been a long time coming. Now that it is here, it will be exciting to see what First Tennessee Park will look like filled with blue and gold.
Saturday will be a testament to all who have made pro soccer happen in Music City.
HOW TO WATCH