Five Storylines to Watch in Nashville’s 2021 Season

Dax McCarty vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10.31.20

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville SC’s 2021 Major League Soccer schedule is finally here. Amongst the 34-match campaign, there are a few storylines in particular to look out for this season.

Here are some of the most intriguing narratives in Nashville SC’s 2021 schedule: 

McCarty and Muyl Homecoming

A trip to Red Bull Arena on June 18 to face the New York Red Bulls will be much more than a midseason clash for two Nashville SC stars. Captain Dax McCarty and Alex Muyl both spent considerable time donning the red and white of RBNY before joining Nashville SC. Muyl joined Red Bulls’ Academy when he was 16 and played over 120 matches for the New York Red Bulls and Red Bulls II. McCarty was traded to the Red Bulls in 2011 and played the third-most matches of anyone in team history, even captaining the club in 2015-16. 

After not playing the Red Bulls during the altered 2020 season, it’ll be the first time Muyl plays against his former club and the first time McCarty plays against the Red Bulls as a member of Nashville SC.

McCarty Homecoming Tour Part Two and Sapong’s Chicago Return

Red Bull Arena won’t be the only stop on the Dax McCarty homecoming tour. Nashville SC will face Chicago Fire FC twice in 2021, with one meeting at Nissan Stadium on July 17 and a rematch at the historic Soldier Field on September 26. McCarty will get to face yet another former club, and it’s also the first time new signing CJ Sapong will play against his former club.

McCarty made nearly 100 appearances for the Fire before moving to Nashville SC, helping lead the team to the playoffs in 2017. CJ Sapong joined Nashville SC this year after two seasons in the Windy City, scoring 15 goals in 43 matches.

Three Bouts with Expansion Rivals 

Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will be forever linked, both entering MLS as expansion sides in the 2020 season. Following each team’s first season, the two clubs played in the Eastern Conference play-in round in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, where Nashville thoroughly dominated La Rosa Negra to the tune of a 3-0 victory. The two growing rivals will play three more times in 2021, with the first of these matches on May 2 at Nissan Stadium in front of a national TV audience on ESPN. It could also be the first time Nashville SC faces former Argentine National Team and Juventus star striker Gonzalo Higuain, who didn’t play in any of the clubs’ matchups in 2020. 

Columbus Crew Playoff Rematch

Nashville SC went on an incredible Audi MLS Cup Playoff run in 2020 with two wins, and were even with the Columbus Crew through the 90’ minute, before the Crew eventually scored two goals in extra time to move on to the conference final. Nashville will be out for revenge against the 2020 MLS Cup champions, with a chance to beat the Crew at their brand-new stadium on July 21.

Reigning Supporters’ Shield Champions Pay a Visit

The Crew aren’t the only trophy winner on Nashville SC’s schedule in 2021. Nashville will play the reigning Supporters’ Shield champion Philadelphia Union twice during this season, including a July 5 clash at Nissan Stadium. The Union, led by captain and former U.S. Men’s National Team star Alejandro Bedoya, will provide an excellent litmus test for Nashville to prove they’re one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference and ready to compete for trophies in 2021. It’s also another homecoming match for CJ Sapong, who played 135 matches for the Union from 2015 to 2018.

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