NASHVILLE – Scroll through any Nashville Soccer Club player’s Instagram page during a road trip weekend, and you’ll see photos and videos of players cracking jokes, smiling and enjoying each other’s company.
Those moments are emblematic of the type of attitude Nashville SC has shown on the road so far in 2019. The off-the-pitch relationships lead to some wonderful chemistry on the pitch.
“I mean, it can’t hurt,” said Forward Cameron Lancaster on the team’s camaraderie. “If the relationships are good off the pitch, then they’re only going to strengthen on the pitch.”
Last season, Nashville Soccer Club won just four matches on the road. With a 4-1 win on the road at Bethlehem Steel FC last weekend, Nashville SC equaled that 2018 total with just eight road matches played so far in 2019. According to Head Coach Gary Smith, the squad’s attitude on the road has played a vital part in making that happen.
“All I can say is that our mentality is always good on the road, the players have got a great camaraderie whenever we go away,” said Smith. “There’s a good spirit and a good feel, and I’ve said time and time again to anyone who wants to listen: I rarely see this group not give everything they’ve got. That always stands you in a nice place when you’re away from home. They work hard, they compete well, and the rest of it on the day if we’re confident and players find some of the form that they’ve been in, then we’ve got a good chance. You certainly need the group to be working hard and competing before anything else, and they do that on a regular basis.”
Lancaster, who joined the club this season, has seen the way the team bonds on the road and knows how different it must be from Nashville’s inaugural season in 2018.
“I think last year was their first year, it takes time for any team to gel,” Lancaster said. “I think the relationships have probably strengthened this season and we’re more like brothers out there rather than a team. Working for each other in every game away and at home.”
The MLS-bound forward has been dealing with some lingering injuries, keeping him out of the lineup for most of the last few weeks. However, Lancaster made his return last weekend against Bethlehem, scoring a goal in 24 minutes of second-half action as a substitute. Smith is excited to see what Lancaster could be able to do with a clean bill of health.
“I’d just love to keep him fit, and I know he wants to stay fit as well,” Smith said. “He’s had four minor injuries that have really broken up what would otherwise have been some decent playing time. To that degree, we’re back in that process of making sure that he’s in the right place. He’s trained well, he’ll certainly be in contention for the weekend. But getting 30 minutes under his belt at the weekend was really pleasing for him and for the team.”
For Lancaster, he’ll continue to put his head down and do what he can to help the team succeed, perhaps starting with yet another road match this weekend at Hartford Athletic.
“Get in the team, score more goals and help the team as much as I can,” Lancaster said. “That’s the main goal for me, I think.”