Nashville SC hasn’t shied away from testing itself in friendlies – the Boys in Gold took on a number of MLS teams (Atlanta United, Chicago Fire, Orlando City SC) prior to the inaugural season last Spring. They’ve already announced a game against New York City FC before season two and will also take on Montreal Impact in Florida.
There’s probably not too much to read into the scheduling – NSC also scheduled USL favorite FC Cincinnati in last year’s preseason – beyond that the team wants to get competitive games under their belt before the season begins.
That they won’t play the two-straight USL Cup Champions (will the name be changing with USL’s new nomenclature?!?! USL Championship Cup Champions?!?) in the regular season until July 6 is a boost. The closest thing to a local derby can be played in preseason, because both sides will have played more than half their regular-season schedules by the time they meet again. Each team will know what the other brings to the table, but the style of play and personnel usage will have shifted by the time they meet up when it counts. Last year’s friendlies were alternately taken seriously (first half of most games, entirety of one or two of them) and with an eye toward evaluating and developing depth. I would expect this game is played in the same mindset.
It’s also positive to see as many contests as possible between these two teams: they played three times in the regular season last year, and again in the US Open Cup with Louisville taking a 2-1-1 series win overall. They’ll play only twice during league play this year (USL expansion has seen every team in the East get a home-and-home with their conference-mates, rather than last year’s unbalanced slates). They’ll be in different leagues in 2020 and beyond when Nashville moves to MLS. It’s nice to get as much of it as we can before that change.
Hopefully, NSC will turn the tide in the series, starting Feb. 9 in Bradenton. It’s high time for Lancaster to find the back of the net for the first time in the rivalry.