After 91 days, Nashville SC is back.
The Boys in Gold begin their 2022 journey on the road at Seattle Sounders FC this Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. After finishing third in the Eastern Conference and making it within a goal of the Conference Final in 2021, Nashville SC will look to keep the momentum going in its third season in Major League Soccer.
The match will mark Nashville SC’s return to the Western Conference and kick off an eight-match road trip before the team returns to the club’s brand-new stadium on May 1.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s opener:
Date: Sunday, Feb. 27
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: Lumen Field (Seattle, Wa.)
Local Stream: NashvilleSC.com/stream
Out-of-market Stream: ESPN+
English Radio: iHeartRadio Online
Spanish Radio: El Jefe 96.7
Fit and Ready – Head Coach Gary Smith said during Thursday’s press conference that his team enters this Sunday’s match at full fitness.
He praised the players for their health and fitness levels throughout training camp.
“Everyone's available,” Smith said. “Everyone's healthy. I truly can go back as far as the first day and say right now that the physical well-being of the players as they came into camp has kept us moving along very briskly. The players look fit, they look strong, and full credit to them in the way that they came into camp because it served us very, very well.”
No Excuses – Nashville SC’s lengthy season-opening road trip presents a challenge the club has never faced before.
But it’s a challenge Smith says his team is ready to face head-on.
“Yes, it will be difficult,” Smith said. “Yes, it is unprecedented. If we want it to be an excuse, it can be and we can say ‘well okay, we’ve got plenty of reasons why we won’t and can’t and haven't been able to achieve what we want.’ I don't honestly believe that anyone on the playing or coaching side of the staff is going to take that short stance. My expectations are that we come out of these eight games away from home in a good spot, that we can challenge for those playoff positions again and be excited about coming to our homes and stadium and making the most of that.”
Scouting Seattle – Nashville’s first opponent of 2022 is one of MLS’ perennial contenders. Last season, the Sounders finished second in the Western Conference with a +20 goal differential before falling to Real Salt Lake in the first round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. During the offseason, Seattle bolstered its already-potent attack with the signing of attacking midfielder Albert Rusnák.
The Sounders’ season is already underway, as the club advanced to the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League with a 5-0 win over Honduran side FC Motagua on Thursday night.
Even though this is a new test for the Boys in Gold, midfielder Hany Mukhtar says they know what they’re up against in the Pacific Northwest.
“We haven't played them before,” Mukhtar said. “But we all know how good they are. They're very strong at home, and they're a good side. We have to believe in ourselves. We are looking at them in video sessions, but obviously we have to concentrate on our strengths, and we need to perform the best way we can.”