Welcome to a semi-regular series where guest-posters fill y’all in on the away day experience following Nashville SC (and occasionally the USMNT!). The Assembly board member Jason Petty gives us his take on a trip to the A.
Soccer is nothing without fans. This was a theme we heard when Covid had kept fans out of stadiums and it was something we heard when the Super League fiasco had happened in Europe. I agree with the theme and the traveling fan also plays an important role in this.
So why would someone who already has season tickets to every home game also go travel out of town to see even more games? For me, someone that’s heavily involved with The Assembly, it is a chance to go see a game without having to worry about all of the pregame and tailgate prep. No getting up early to stuff all of the gear into my truck, getting to the lot early to set everything up, no reloading and then cleaning things up the same night or next morning. Being a guest – and picking up some ideas – of opposing supporters groups is an important experience. The networking has already been a benefit for me. I was lucky to stay with some FC Cincinnati fans for a US men’s game back in 2019 for their disaster of a game against Venezuela and I was lucky enough to stay with my friend CK from Terminus Legion for Nashville SC’s most recent match against Atlanta United.
The road trip to Atlanta was special for me. I had some 2020 dates circled for trips I wanted to take, and even had a flight reserved for our trip to NYCFC in April. Obviously, that game never happened. I knew for 2021 if it was possible I was going to try to at least make trips to the matches that I felt like were in a decent driving distance. At long last, I was on the road again.
Friday’s drive down couldn’t pass uneventfully. As I’m nearing Chattanooga rain has hit and traffic goes to a crawl. As I make my way through I see a couple of accidents along the way. Finally after getting through the traffic – and through the construction zones in Chattanooga – I reach the Georgia state line. The weather is clear, but not for long. Another heavy downpour outside Atlanta, and I’m back to a slow crawl again. Finally around 9PM I make it to CK’s house and I feel beat and I’m highly appreciative of having the place to stay.
The next morning, it’s game day. Since I’m staying with someone that’s a board member of a supporters group I get to go to their lot early. The setup is very similar to how a Backline tailgate looks here – with each SG having a designated spot. I’m mostly hanging out in the Terminus Legion spot but I do get to make my way around to some of the other areas and get to meet folks from the others groups. I’m probably the first Nashville SC fan to make it there but more NSC fans start to trickle in when we are probably a couple hours from kickoff. It’s good to see familiar faces make the trip. Most of the folks that came are in supporters groups but since we are all from different groups this is one of the few chances that we can all meet before a game.
Once the tailgate starts to end we all start to march toward the stadium. We are going in doing chants along the way like we would do at home. I was excited to see what the hype is all about with Mercedes Benz Stadium and I will say it lives up to its billing. Doing chants going up and down escalators is pretty fun. The concession pricing really blew people away. I got a coke and a slice of pizza for around $5 or $6. You can also get free refills on sodas.
Lucky for us, we are sitting in the 200s instead of the 300s for this match. The view isn’t that bad. We do chants in the sections like we would do at home. It’s a little different from our section at home with no capo, fewer people, and rival fans around us.
The game itself turned out like a few we have already played. We go down 2-0 and then make a late comeback to make it 2-2. Going into the game I felt that a draw would be good result for us. This was the second away game we have played this season and I knew winning at Mercedes Benz would be hard. After the break ends I hope we can start getting 3 points again soon.
After the game we get some handshakes and fist bumps from some of the Atlanta fans. In our section the security is holding us back a little till the sections around us start to clear out, which is understandable. I have to go back to the tailgate lot to meet back up with CK. The Atlanta fans are upset with the result of a draw. I can’t blame them since I would feel the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
I can’t recommend going to travel to away matches enough if you get the chance. I know a lot of Atlanta fans want to make the trip here even though the match is midweek, thanks Don. I plan on making our return trip to Atlanta later this year along with trying to head to a few more.
Many thanks to Jason for his contribution! If you’re a fan planning to travel to NSC away matches this season, drop me a line and share your experiences with readers!