Nashville has high-level women’s soccer! Nashville Rhythm begins its season at 2 p.m. today at Trevecca Nazarene University against the Memphis Lobos, and the ladies are back on the field tomorrow evening at Father Ryan against Peachtree City MOBA. Check them out.
Plenty of attention has gone to men’s soccer in Nashville lately: Nashville SC played in the PDL (with a U-23 team) last year, and is in the USL this season – with Major League Soccer coming within a couple years. Inter Nashville FC is in its second year in the NPSL. The teams even squared off in a US Open Cup derby last Wednesday.
With all that excitement, it’d be unfair to forget that the women play ball, too. Nashville Rhythm FC will begin its Women’s Premier Soccer League season this afternoon at home. What is WPSL?
“It’s an amateur league,” said Rhythm FC head coach Scott Davidson. “A lot of our girls are college players. Then we have others who are very very good players who want to give something back and be involved in the community, but also play high-level soccer. We have that kind of mix, but it is very college-based. It’s like the equivalent to the PDL and the NPSL on the men’s side.”
While their league is comparable to some familiar setups on the men’s side, fans who come out to the weekend’s games (at Trevecca Nazarene today, Father Ryan High School tomorrow) are going to be treated to a different style of soccer. Despite fielding an amateur side, Davidson takes pride in the technical, attacking product on the field. That’s not always easy when players have limited practice time and only come together over the Summer.
The pace of the women’s game – not so reliant on pure athleticism – emphasizes the aesthetic appeal of the style of play.
“The men’s side is very very high-pace, high-tempo,” Davidson explained. “The women’s side is a little bit slower but there’s a lot of technical and tactical play that goes on there. It is a little bit slower, but the intensity is still there and the ability is still there. I think you see that a little more showcased because it’s not as fast-paced.
“We’re a very very technical team, we’re a possession-based team. We like to move the ball quickly to create numbers-up situations and score when we do that. Everything’s with a purpose, but we like to keep possession of the ball, and we like to do that at a high tempo. We’re definitely an attack-oriented team. They’ll definitely see a lot of attacking football, a lot of creativity, a lot of people taking chances. Like I said, the women’s side is very technical so it’ll be exciting to watch.”
Like everyone else in Nashville, Davidson is excited not just about his own team, but about the future of soccer in the area. With Major League Soccer on the way, could the city also support a team in the NWSL – the professional women’s league in the United States? It may be a long way off, but it’s something Davidson has his eye on.
Whether his group is directly or indirectly involved in a hypothetical future Nashville franchise in the women’s professional game, he intends to be there supporting the effort.
“Definitely for me, I just want to kind of get the exposure for the women’s side,” he said. “Having an NWSL team is obviously the long-term goal and that would be fantastic here in Nashville. If it’s something that we can be a part of, that’s fantastic. If not, if another organization comes in and presents that and it takes off, that’s fantastic, and we’ll do everything we can to support that.
“For us, we’re just trying to grow the organization and grow the support for the women’s side, and just get the name out, and get the girls the respect and attention that they deserve, because they’re fantastic athletes.”
You can play a part in supporting the growth of the women’s game in Nashville by making it out to one of the weekend’s two games (half of the entire home schedule, with the team also playing in Music City June 15 and June 30 to close out the hosting schedule). Why should you do just that?
“Honestly, come out and experience a different atmosphere, a different style of soccer, and just see something different,” he said. “I know a lot of people watch the men’s side, and watch the EPL and things like that. This is a completely different experience and it’s so enjoyable and so passionate, and the girls are really connected. I don’t think they’d be disappointed at all. I think we strive to grab the attention of the Nashville soccer community.”
Tickets are $10 at the gate for this afternoon’s game, as well as tomorrow evening’s. Get out and support some local soccer.