NASHVILLE – When midfielder Randall Leal scored Nashville SC’s first Audi MLS Cup Playoff goal last November with a right-footed rocket, the roar of the limited-capacity crowd was unmistakable.
Now, the Boys in Gold will open the 2021 season in front of a 33% capacity crowd at Nissan Stadium with all Season Ticket Members able to attend, along with limited single-match tickets available. Leal is excited to see the crowd for Nashville’s home opener, presented by Jackson, against FC Cincinnati next Saturday.
“I love when we play at home to feel the support of the fans,” Leal said. “It’s incredible. When you get the ball, you score, you make a good play, you hear the fans screaming and everything, it’s good for us.”
Despite only joining Nashville SC towards the end of the 2020 season, fellow midfielder Handwalla Bwana, coming from the Seattle Sounders FC, knows the difference a home crowd can make on the pitch.
“The fans are the 12th man,” Bwana said. “When you have the fans in front of you, you have that energy. When I was with Seattle, we played with a lot of fans, and you feel like you have one extra man on the field. It’s an advantage. Having the fans back is going to be huge, especially for the team having the first four home games. That’s going to be a big boost for us for sure.”
That home field advantage will come in handy to start the 2021 season, especially after such a strong season at home. Last season, the Boys in Gold took at least a point from eight of its nine home matches after the league restarted in August.
This season, Nashville SC opens up with four consecutive home matches before finally hitting the road on May 15. Bwana believes having a Music City crowd for the first few matches will only help build the team’s confidence. It may also help the club qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which will accept the top eight American teams in the standings after three matches.
“It’s huge, that’s how you want to start off a season with a confidence boost,” he said. “The four games, it’s a must-win. All three points. If we get those home games, going into the road game it will give so much confidence to the lads, and it’s going to be huge for the team in general and to get the confidence up.”
After reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2020, Nashville SC enters this season with lots of reasons to be confident. Starting the season with good results at home will only reinforce that.
“Who would have thought last year we would make the semifinals?” Bwana said. “Nobody would have thought. Now the guys know that we’re one of the best teams in MLS, so now we have so much confidence, so going in and getting three points is going to be huge for us.”
Be there to cheer on the Boys in Gold on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Limited single match tickets are available now. Click here to purchase.