mls Nashville SC US Soccer

Pitch points brings sports to Nashville

Welcome to Pitch Points, your somewhat-regular – also sometimes not-particularly-regular – rundown of interesting links in the world of Nashville SC and US Soccer. 

World Cuppin’. The host site decisions for the 2026 World Cup in North American will be pushed back for obvious reasons. The United States will have 10 host cities. Sporting News goes about ranking the contenders, Nashville comes in No. 12:

Venue: Nissan Stadium

Capacity: 69,722

Positives: Nashville has become one of the hottest tourist cities in the U.S., with the music and food scenes there drawing visitors.

Negatives: Nashville has become about as expensive in high season for hotel space as the nation’s biggest cities, and one can imagine a World Cup pushing the more limited space available here to considerable heights.

Soccer cred: Nashville joined Major League soccer this season. Nissan Stadium has been host to friendlies for both the U.S. women and men, although it’s never drawn exceptionally well for either.

Overview: There is much to like about the idea of putting the World Cup in the Mid-South, but there’s the question of whom Nashville would replace and whether the city has responded well enough to the game to earn it.

“This is an expensive city for hotel rooms” is probably seen as a feature, not a bug. There’s a grain of truth in not drawing well for USMNT or USWNT games, and Nashville SC’s lack of opportunity to prove that high soccer attendance has staying power… could be an issue.

No. 12 out of 10, of course, is pretty close to making the cut (in one subjective viewer’s opinion, no less), and we’ve seen Nashville put together strong presentations in the past [gestures toward Nashville SC’s existence].

For what it’s worth in this particular discussion, Nashville was the No. 2 market nationally for the NWSL final over the weekend. I’ll spare you all my theory on why Music City doesn’t regularly feature higher in Nielsen ratings for soccer events on the television set (and why that hasn’t been the case during the past four months or so).

Speaking of bringing new sports to Nashville… The push for a Major League Baseball team is getting serious.

From my perspective, baseball in Nashville doesn’t make sense – particularly with a AAA team already in town (and the mechanisms that brought Nashville SC from NPSL to USL to MLS in just a half-decade are fairly familiar in the soccer sphere, not so much in baseball). Of course, there’s been talk of significantly restructuring minor league baseball anyway, so cutting one team to add a Major League team wouldn’t be that significant a stretch.

My take is that I don’t really watch baseball so I don’t see the need to add a team; I’m well aware this is not a utilitarian perspective so much as a selfish one.

Would it impact Nashville SC if the city were to add another summer sport? I have to imagine that the fanbases wouldn’t have a huge overlap. Beyond the general sports fan who’s not a diehard of either but willing to buy tickets for one or the other on a given day (who seems more likely to gravitate toward baseball), the folks who are capital-B capital-F fans of both sports but limited in their disposable income would seem to favor the sport with a more fervent… cultish? (in a good way!)… sport, but that’s just speculation.

I can’t see any sort of any political climate in the near future that would facilitate municipal funding of a brand-new stadium, so it still strikes me as a pipe dream, anyway.

When the numbers are good but the team doesn’t play. This Paul Carr piece was intended as a preview for MLS is Back. Therefore the Nashville SC portion of the preview was not used for its intended purpose! However, it’s not dated nonetheless – give or take how your opinion on Atlanta has changed.

Nashville have done well keeping their opponents out of their penalty area as well, with just 2.1% of opposition touches coming inside the box, the third-lowest in MLS. Plus, 56% of the shots Nashville have faced this season have come from outside the area, fourth-best in the league, and none of the shots they’ve conceded have had more than an 8% chance of going in.

There are caveats – trailing most of the time so far means opponents haven’t pushed forward in risky ways – but certainly you’d have a hard time presenting the defensive performance as anything other than outstanding.

The pain of being a Red Bulls fan. Also from StatsPerform (the parent company of soccer analytics company Opta). The kicker:

I no longer stress about whether the teams I support reach the playoffs, advance through the postseason, or win a title.

That’s all great, I admit. But the smaller joys of watching a team win regularly over the course of many months – and the cumulative experience of watching such a season unfold – matters just as much to me, if not more, than seeing them hoist a trophy on the final night of many.

“I don’t care if the team I like accomplishes anything, as long as I feel like they’re good during the season” is kind of a hot take, to me. Not that I’m a “rings over everything” sort of guy, but nor is enjoyment the only worthwhile criterion, with everything else basically immaterial.

Your move, rook. The Tennessean‘s Drake Hills caught up with Nashville SC rookies Luke Haakenson and Jack Maher about their time on loan with Charlotte Independence.

Maher was recalled after one game, but Haakenson remains with the USL Championship side, and scored his first professional goal over the weekend. Friend of the Blog Ashley Mahoney of Queen City Football Chronicles has the game story.

Maher very obviously has a future with Nashville SC, but it would be very cool to see Haakenson continue to excel with Charlotte this year en route to a future first-team role with the Boys in Gold.

Etc.: Every once in a while, gotta link to a Spielverlagerung piece (think it’s actually been a while since I’ve tossed on in a links post). … Line-breaking passes. … Efrain Alvarez feature on the Galaxy starlet. In a former life of this blog, there would have been a long depressing section about how he’s going to play his MNT ball for Mexico after beginning with the USYNT … Former Nashville SC general counsel (and friend of the blog) Dan Werly has been hired into the same role by the Titans.

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