2021.05.15 RSL-44

Nashville Soccer Club has started 2021 unbeaten through five matches.  

Only the defending Western Conference Champion Seattle Sounders FC and fellow 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinalist Orlando City SC have done the same.  

Now, the Boys in Gold will return home to do something they haven’t done in 450 days: play in front of a near capacity crowd at Nissan Stadium when they take on Austin FC on Sunday night at 8 p.m. CT.

“I believe we could be in for a bumper crowd,” Head Coach Gary Smith said after Nashville’s scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. “As you’ve seen, the atmosphere makes a lot of difference to the way that the teams go about their business.” 

The last time Nashville SC played in front of a near-capacity crowd in Nashville was on February 29, 2020, when the club broke the record for soccer attendance in Tennessee with 59,069 fans packed into Nissan Stadium for Nashville’s Major League Soccer debut.

Fast forward over a year later, Nashville SC started this season playing in front of a limited capacity at Nissan Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. The fans that were allowed in saw four intense matches, including two come-from-behind 2-2 draws and a statement-making 2-0 win over the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution.

Goalkeeper Joe Willis has put up three consecutive clean sheets after Saturday night’s draw in which he didn’t even face a single shot on target. He says the team has returned to its strong defensive form that put it into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020, and that fans should look out for the team’s offense going forward.

“I think in the first two games when we gave up those early goals, that was pretty uncharacteristic of us,” Willis said. “We needed to get back to what made us successful. Last year, we had a similar start to what we’ve done in the last three games now – which is maybe not scoring tons of goals, but we’re giving ourselves a good foundation, and giving ourselves a chance to maybe nick one at some point during the game.

“I have no doubt that more goals will come. We have a lot of talented players in the attacking third, so as long as we can keep keeping clean sheets and giving the guys a chance, then I have all the confidence in the world that more goals will come.”

Even without a full capacity crowd, Nashville SC has put on quite a show in Music City. The club has lost just two of its 15 home matches in its MLS history across the regular season and playoffs. Smith says he thinks his team will be able to keep up the home form that has made it a force to be reckoned with in MLS.

“Our home form’s been very good,” Smith said. “We go about our business in a particular fashion. The guys are very confident, and I would think looking towards next weekend we’ll be in a good place, and we’ll be ready to take on an Austin side that have started their season in very good fashion.”

It’s time to get Everyone Back N with our special ticket bundle for Sunday’s matchup against Austin FC at 8 p.m. at Nissan Stadium, pres. by Jackson. The bundle includes a ticket to the match and an Everyone N T-shirt. Click here to purchase.

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