After months of anticipation, Christmas came early for soccer fans in the Music City at the Commissioner of Major League Soccer (MLS), Don Garber, announced that Nashville would be the next MLS expansion team. The team will begin play in 2020.
The new professional soccer team will now join the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators in the Music City’s sports landscape. Both the Titans’ and Predators’ organizations were also supportive of bringing an MLS team to Nashville.
The Nashville MLS team should probably put something in the Nashville Predators’ Christmas stocking as many think the success of the Predators in Stanley Cup playoffs increased the chances of securing one of the four coveted slots.
Work will now begin on building the home for the new team. Current plans call for the stadium to be built at the state fairgrounds. Personally, this isn’t the most ideal location and I have been opposed to this idea but it appears that the team will proceed with their plans to build their house of soccer in this south Nashville location. On November 7th, the Metro Nashville City Council approved $225 million to build a 27,500-seat stadium.
So now the REAL work begins as the front office, coaches, players and season ticket drives will begin. I think professional soccer will be successful in Nashville. As successful as the Predators? Probably not but the Predators got off to a weak start themselves and at one point nearly left Nashville for Hamilton, Ontario. I do believe that soccer will be a good fit to fill the void between the hockey and football seasons although they will overlap.
Nashville and Sacramento were the favorites for the next two teams. Cincinnati and Detroit are also expected to round out the two remaining expansion slots. Nashville becomes the league’s 24th team. Just a year ago Nashville was considered a long shot to snag one of the coveted expansion slots. Now, they became the first one to do it ahead of the other applicants.
Nashville’s chances were also helped with hosting soccer events at Nissan Stadium over the past few years which drew sell-out crowds for international matches.
Major League Soccer recently completed its 22nd season on December 9th when Toronto FC defeated Seattle FC 2-0 for the title. The MLS started with 10 teams in 1996.
There is no word on what the team name will officially be titled. Major League Soccer is a bit different than other leagues in that aspect. Most teams stick to the traditions of the European leagues which do not necessarily name them the same as other leagues. Some teams will put FC (for Football Club) at the beginning or end – such as Toronto FC or FC Dallas. Some teams incorporate a little of both such as the Seattle Sounders FC. Atlanta United was an expansion last season and should easily become a natural rivalry for the new Nashville team.