After a lackluster performance in their 1-1 tie with Panama in Nashville, the U.S. Men’s team rebounded by winning their next five games by a 12-3 margin. The USA finished it with a 2-1 win over Jamaica for the CONCACAF Gold Cup title in San Francisco.
Jordan Morris scored the game-winner in the 88th minute to give USA the win. Morris scored a team-high three goals in the tournament.
On Wednesday, before an announced crowd of 63,032, they went ahead in the 45th minute on Jozy Altidore’s sensational free kick from 28 yards past reserve goalkeeper Dwayne Miller, an early replacement for the brilliant Andre Blake (hand injury). Jamaica, seeking its first Gold Cup title, drew even five minutes after intermission on Je-Vaughn Watson’s volley off a corner kick.
This was the U.S. team’s first Gold Cup title since 2013. They have won 6 Gold Cup titles which is one behind Mexico (7).
U.S. results in the Gold Cup tournament:
USA 1, Panama 1 (Nashville, TN)
USA 3, Martinique (Tampa, FL)
USA 3, Nicaragua 0 (Cleveland, OH)
USA 2, El Salvador 0 (Philadelphia, PA)
USA 2, Costa Rica 0 (Arlington, TX)
USA 2, Jamaica 1 (San Francisco, CA)
Next up for the U.S. team is a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in Harrison, N.Y. on September 1st and then a trip to Honduras. The U.S. currently stands third in a six-nation group that will send three teams to Russia.
On Saturday, Nashville hosted two Gold Cup games at Nissan Stadium as observers watched to gauge the support of the Music City for soccer. As one of 12 cities hoping to secure a team in future expansion of Major League Soccer (MLS), supporters hoped Nashville would have a good showing to help the city’s effforts. The largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in the State of Tennessee showed up. But will the crowd of almost 48,000 help Nashville’s case for one of four future MLS expansion franchises?
It certainly didn’t hurt. But just one game with a record-breaking attendance is quite different than supporting a team during the regular season. It would also be especially challenging if the team is in the cellar of the standings. Of course, it isn’t realistic to think that 48,000 would be the average attendance for an potential Nashville MLS team. However, on the other hand, it would be interesting to see the city transformed as it was during the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Predators if the Nashville MLS team were to be in the MLS Cup.
We won’t find out if Nashville made the first round of two expansion teams until later this year. Most soccer experts say that the city will probably not be one of the first two and most likely still on the outside looking in when the league announces the final two expansion teams in late 2018. Nashville does have many things going for its bid in additional to the showing of support on Saturday. Local government officials and ownership is already in place and the only remaining question is committing to a stadium plan. MLS requires that their teams have soccer-specific stadiums. Recent reports have been that the Tennessee State Fairgrounds would be the location for such a stadium and with the state fair moving to another location, that option seems a likely choice. Personally, I’m not really sold on that location as there will need to be a lot more infrastructure needed (improved parking, public transportation, etc.) to establish a first-class, professional soccer facility in that area of town. There is still time to look at other options but local officials need to work together quickly to have some tangible decisions made.
So did this turnout for the Gold Cup move Nashville up the list of 12? It may have moved the bid up a notch or two but the question will be if the MLS Expansion Committee will have long term memory about this weekend or will the large turnout be forgotten?
The Nashville Scene magazine seems to think Sacramento, California is a “lock” for one of the four expansion teams. I’m not sure how they arrived at that opinion but surely Nashville is a better fit than Sacramento.
After compiling several rankings, here are the overall chances:
I think Nashville would get an expansion nod if the four slots were awarded today but with the time left until decisions are made, the Music City needs to keep playing their tune for the MLS.