One of the interesting side effects of social media and American soccer interest rising together right now is a lot of availability for prospective fans to learn about clubs both old and new.
A recurring question tends to pop up from the unaffiliated is a simple one: why should I be a fan of your club? So, why should folks become fans of Nashville SC if they’re looking for a domestic team (or if they’re overseas looking for an American team) to cheer for this year?
The team should be good
Rooting for losers can have its own endearing qualities, but it’s rarely fun (hello, fellow Nashville Hammers!). Fans cheering for Nashville SC this season should be on the other side of that ledger. This team, by any reasonable prediction, should be among the best in USL.
It was a fairly solid team last year, and aside from a mid-season slump (and some late struggles) was one of the better in the Eastern Conference. It should go to another level this year, with two of the league’s top three scorers added to an offense that was at times the Achilles heel in 2018. That added talent will hopefully make the style of play an exciting one to watch, as well.
If you want to go for a championship contender, Nashville is as good a choice as any.
They aren’t the evil empire (yet)
FC Cincinnati took flak last year from opposing fans for cobbling together what was far and away the most talented roster in the league by spending much, much more on the squad than anyone else (aside from the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who spent a lot but still managed to be bad).
Nashville doesn’t have a history of extreme success, and while the club is spending on the roster, it won’t be to the degree that Cincinnati did (indeed, the roster is basically set as-is, barring injury, etc. over the course of the season, and it won’t be one of the most richly-compensated in the league). There will certainly be a bit of pushback about having signed a pair of players – strikers Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos – to the future MLS franchise, but given that neither of them is making “Designated Player” bucks, like FCC’s Fanendo Adi was last year (FCC also spent proprietary MLS assets to acquire their MLS signings, which Nashville did not), it’s less extreme. Indeed, neither of them is likely to be even close to the highest-paid player in the East, much less all of USL.
If the plan changes and the lines between MLS and USL are further blurred, maybe NSC does indeed become the villain of the league. If you get in now, you predate that.
You’re in the door relatively early
Nashville SC is in just its second year of professional soccer (after previous iterations played in amateur leagues 2014-17), so even if you feel like a late-comer to the party, it’s really not that extreme.
For comparison’s sake, Charleston Battery has existed since 1993, Bethlehem Steel is the spiritual child of a club by the same name that existed in 1907(!) – even if the current organization is not directly related in any way other than name – and the majority of the teams have been in the league longer than NSC.
You can get in with a club that’s early in its tenure in USL without many of the risks of being involved from the very beginning.
There’s a future
On the other hand, if you love the underdog narrative or being there from the beginning, there’s no better club to become a fan of now, because Nashville SC will be starting in Major League Soccer starting next season, and you can be in from the ground floor. That it should come with a confidence-boosting year to close the USL tenure can also take some of the sting off what might be a rough start in Major League Soccer.
That MLS future, though, is still enticing. (And to be fair, it was questions about “which MLS team should I support” that most-inspired this post). Nashville may not be gangbusters from the beginning in 2020… but they’ll be in the top flight of American soccer.
In addition (and there’s some overlap here with the above points), the front office of the organization seems to really be finding its way, and setting itself up to be successful on and off the field in the long run.
The city is fun to visit
If country music is not your thing, you may be wary of supporting a team that comes from a city most known in recent years for pop-country music and bachelorette parties. That’s a very fair trepidation to experience.
Don’t worry, though! There’s much more going on in Nashville than Broadway, not least of which is the soccer team itself. There are plenty of fun bars (including many soccer bars, at least for fans of Premier League clubs) that don’t have a second of live music playing, there are fine restaurants galore, and much, much more than the home of country music.
(For those who are still skeptical: I hated country music before moving here, continue to hate it after several years living here, and have never had a problem making my Nashville experience have zero intersection with country music).
Because I asked nicely
So do it.
You’re not a soccer fan but want a team to support
This is a slightly different angle from some of the points above,
Did I convince you? Learn more about the 2019 club and its recent history by exploring FCAC, with the Nashville Soccer University series having some good jumping-off points.