They’re just a few hours down the freeway, but Memphis 901 FC might as well be a world away. To clear that information barrier, I caught up with Scotty Smith, the editor of 901SoccerPod.com.
For Club and Country: One must assume that this season hasn’t lived up to expectations. What has gone wrong for Memphis? What can 901 FC build on for the rest of this year and into following seasons?
901 Soccer Pod: There were no expectations for Memphis 901FC, at least when the fans talk among themselves. In fact, one of our writers uses the term “year zero.” We have all been in sports long enough to know that expansion teams usually don’t make the playoffs. We just wanted to be in position to get hot at the end of the year and slip into the last playoff spot. That could still happen, but the expectations will start in earnest next season.
The fact that 8000 people have paid to watch soccer (multiple times) in this basketball town means this season was a success no matter what.
FCAC: Scoring has seemed to be the primary difficulty for this team (with a defense that’s among the best in the bottom half of the table). Was the four-goal output against Hartford a sign of turning the corner, or just taking advantage of an overmatched opponent?
901SP: Well, there is no doubt that Hartford is struggling. We also had the confidence of having beaten them twice before. I’m not ready to say we have turned a corner, but the four goal output was a nice little gift for the home fans. I know some folks who went for the first time, and they loved it. A 4-1 scoreline will sell a few tickets, to be sure.
FCAC: How do you expect the canceled game against Charleston to affect this team? Are they more rested, or did it disrupt their rhythm?
901SP: I know the guys were really ready to play. It is tough to fly halfway across the country and not play. Plus, the fact that we did not play that match means Marc Burch did not get to serve his one-match yellow card ban. We’ll be without our captain against Nashville.
FCAC: How has former Nashville SC striker Brandon Allen performed in the couple games he’s been available after arriving from Tampa Bay?
901SP: I forgot he was on the team, to be honest. But I always thought Ropapa Mensah should have started over him in Nashville. I know he did some good things in 2016, but that was quite some time ago.
FCAC: Both teams see this contest as a rivalry, but how is it viewed from Memphis’s end, especially knowing that Nashville SC won’t be in USL next year?
901SP: That part is tough for a couple of reasons. One, it is tough to go all in on a rivalry when you know the teams will not be playing consistently. Two, there is the very strong feeling that Nashville had a good thing going with the supporter-owned model in 2015. Contrast that with 2019. Now, you have 22 big-money investors who just bought their way into the first division over cities like Sacramento, Tampa, and Indy, who have been supporting pro soccer longer. So some of the rivalry is born of the feeling that Nashville is leaving USL because of our corrupt, money-hungry system, not because they earned it.
FCAC: Any specific predictions (including a final score)?
901SP: I predict at least two fights and three red cards. One of the coaches will be ejected. It will be the biggest war on Tennessee soil since the 1998 Tennessee-Florida game. I predicted 1-1 in the first match, so I’ll stick with that. I also predict that the governor will have no idea it is taking place, or that Tennessee has pro soccer.
Thanks to Memphis City Smitty for taking the time to fill us in on 901FC. Make sure you check out 901SoccerPod.com to get your fill of info on the team.