Yo. Watch Nashville SC’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta United this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. CDT on Fox 17 in the Middle Tennessee coverage area.
Through more than two months of existence as an MLS franchise, Nashville SC is still siting on the same numbers we saw as long ago as March 8: zero wins, one goal. That’s not because the team has gone out and laid egg after egg on the playing field, but rather because there haven’t been any games since a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers. The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shutdowns* have meant an unprecedented dearth of sporting activity around the country and the world, and MLS has been no exception.
For the time being, all we have are the memories. Despite a 2-1 loss in the team’s inaugural game way back on Feb. 29 against Atlanta United, the memories of the day are positive for Nashville partisans. The product on the pitch in front of 59,069 fans, while it was unable to bring a victory for the home crowd, was exciting. The surrounding events – and what they represented as the payoff for years off effort – were even better. Midfield captain Dax McCarty will have fond memories of the day.
“That was an incredibly special day – even describing it that way undersells it,” McCarty said. “For me, it was one of the best moments in my career, even though the result was not what we wanted. That’s only one part of the entire picture of what that meant for the city of Nashville, for what that meant for MLS, for what that meant for all the people that live here and have been supporting this project from day one and when they started in USL. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes from a lot of people who don’t get enough credit, and the credit that they deserve.
“To see a full Nissan Stadium, 60,000 people on a beautifully brisk night, where the atmosphere was, for my money, one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in front of for my entire career, it’s something that I’ll never forget. I had lots of friends and family there. I think the emotion of the game: you got the sense that what we’re creating here is very special. And that’s just a small glimpse of hopefully what’s to come. Definitely a day I’ll never forget. If I get hooked up with cable here in the near future – which I’m not right now – I’ll definitely be trying to tune in and watch that for the memories.”
After this week’s announcement of a broadcast partnership between Nashville SC and Fox 17 (along with its affiliates), there’s no better way to celebrate than by trying to re-live the contest. The highs of a Walker Zimmerman goal from a set piece and the lows of a world-class winner from Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman (which, from a neutral perspective, is a pretty high moment itself, a touch of class from the US International) will be on display once more this afternoon.
Fox 17 will begin the festivities with a pregame show at 1 p.m. CDT, followed by a re-broadcast of the game (which initially aired on Fox Sports 1). We’re 70 days removed – and with all the perspective gained in the time since – from the contest. That brings a strong bittersweet feeling, with only one game played in the interim, but a return to seeing soccer on television will be welcome nonetheless.
For Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs, the removal from the gameday nerves will allow him to watch in an entirely different manner than he did from Nissan Stadium Feb. 29.
“When you’re in it, sometimes it’s hard to totally appreciate the whole experience,” he admitted. “I think at times for me on that day, I was so focused on what we had to do to get a result as opposed to kind of stepping back and appreciating how special the whole event was. Thinking about 24 hours later, I think it was easier to kind of appreciate how special that was for our city and for our club, and I think it’s an important first step for what we’re building here with out franchise. I guess I’m looking forward to it more as a spectator or as a fan to sit back and watch it and appreciate the things Dax said: to imagine the stadium filled to that kind of capacity, all in gold, chanting and screaming the whole time. It’s pretty special.”
As the franchise – along with several others in MLS – begins to take baby steps toward a return to the field, soccer feels as close today as it has since the season was initially suspended March 12, or at least since the eight-week extension of that moratorium. Today’s broadcast will help fill the emotional gaps.
When the game can return in earnest, there’s no doubt that Music City will continue to prove that the Boys in Gold are here to stay, and that they’ve captured the heart of a fanbase.
I’m incredibly excited about the future of this club,” McCarty said. “I think you saw in that first game specifically we started out a little bit nervous, and then as the game wore on, we grew into the game. We got better and better and better until we were, for my money, the dominant team, trying to push for the equalizing goal and then ultimately push for a victory. Our fans were a big part of that, and if they can continue to do that whenever the season starts, whenever we get going again, if they can do that every home game, then I think Nissan Stadium is going to be a fortress for us, and that’s really important if you want to win games.”
Today, we’ll see merely a phantasm of a time past, or a shadow of what’s to come. The future is bright.
* Stay inside! Wash your hands!