This wouldn’t typically be front-page-news-worthy information, but there’s a decent chance it has some effects on Nashville SC. The MLS entry dates for two of the three pending expansion squads have been pushed back a year.
From League release:
NEW YORK (Friday, July 17, 2020) – Major League Soccer today announced a new timeline for the inaugural seasons of three of the four expansion clubs. The new timeline is the result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the commencement of business operations and stadium development of these clubs and will give the clubs an appropriate timeline for a successful launch.
Austin FC remains on schedule to begin competition in 2021 as planned. Charlotte, originally scheduled to begin MLS play next season, will now debut in 2022. St. Louis and Sacramento will begin play in 2023 instead of 2022.
(There’s a lot more, but the newsy bits are there).
So: Nashville SC began the 2020 season in the West, moved ever-so-briefly to the East for the beginning of the MLS is Back tournament, and is expected to remain there when the season returns (inshallah) in home markets come late August.
With an obvious West team entering next year, and an obvious East team in 2022, Nashville may play the MLS version of USL’s St. Louis FC (which didn’t spend consecutive years in the same conference until this, its sixth year of existence) for the short term. Which conference will the Boys in Gold compete in? Find out when you tune in to that day’s broadcast!
Of course… there’s reason to believe that won’t be the case, as well. MLS has played around with unconventional conference structures in the past: Nashville is currently placed in a 14-team East while the West has only 12 teams during the post-pandemic (during-pandemic, whatever) portion of the 2020 season, and Real Salt Lake won the 2009 edition of MLS Cup as an Eastern Conference representative in the final… despite playing in the Western Conference. Smart money is on Nashville playing in its permanent conference – or at least the one the league plans for them to be in for the long haul – in 2021 and beyond, and whatever tinkering is needed to make that work, so be it.
For now… there’s other, more pressing stuff (including a potential return to the field for a post-coronavirus-infected Nashville SC) to worry about long before any of this becomes relevant.
US map from file absolutely for a different purpose, but relevant enough for our needs here. Courtesy MLS.