|Full name||Nashville Soccer Club|
|Founded||December 20, 2017|
|Head coach||Gary Smith|
|League||Major League Soccer|
Nashville Soccer Club are a Major League Soccer team based in Nashville, Tennessee. The team began play in the league in 2020 as a continuation of the USL club of the same name and plays its home matches at Nissan Stadium, with intention to move to a 27,500-seat stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds to be constructed in the near future. It is principally owned by John Ingram, owner of Ingram Industries, along with investors and partial owners the Turner family of Dollar General Stores and the Wilf family.
Prior to the arrival of Nashville's MLS team, the city had various soccer teams which played in the lower divisions of American soccer. The most notable teams were the Nashville Metros who played from 1989 until 2012 and Nashville FC, who played in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) from 2013 to 2016. The city also hosts two NCAA Division I men's soccer teams, the Belmont Bruins and Lipscomb Bisons. The Vanderbilt Commodores also played Division I men's soccer until the team's demise after the 2005 season. Prior to these teams, the Nashville Diamonds participated in the then-second division American Soccer League for one season in 1982.
The NPSL team, Nashville FC, was founded by a supporters group that intended to form a team as a fan-owned group. Chris Jones, Nashville FC's president, cited existing fan-owned clubs as inspiration for NFC's foundation, in particular the English club F.C. United of Manchester. In February 2014, the two groups merged to form a single club for the 2014 NPSL season. The club had two teams participating in the Middle Tennessee Soccer Alliance, Nashville's largest competitive adult league, and had partnered with the Tennessee State Soccer Association (TSSA), an organization with over 20,000 registered players in the Middle Tennessee area alone. The team played its matches at Vanderbilt Stadium. The NPSL club had ambitions of climbing the American Soccer Pyramid, with the reported target an entry into the then third-tier United Soccer League (USL; now known as the USL Championship) by 2017, and then ascension into the Division II North American Soccer League by 2020. However, in 2016, the USL awarded a franchise to a separate ownership group in Nashville. Nashville FC subsequently sold its team name, logo, and color scheme to the new USL franchise, which became known as Nashville SC, in exchange for a 1 percent equity stake in the USL team and a voting seat on its board.
In August 2016, a group of Nashville business leaders from several of the city's largest corporations formed the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee and began efforts to secure funding for an MLS stadium. The group, led by Bill Hagerty, sought an MLS team immediately rather than working up the soccer pyramid. The group fully supported the recently awarded USL expansion team, Nashville SC, which began play in 2018. Both groups supported each other in their common vision to grow the sport in Tennessee. In October 2017, the group unveiled their plans for $275 million stadium and redevelopment project, which was approved by the city in November.
The formal bid to add an MLS franchise to Nashville began in January 2017. On March 4, 2017, businessman John Ingram, under the entity Nashville Holdings LLC, bought a majority stake in DMD Soccer, the ownership group of Nashville SC. Ingram also headed up the bid to bring an MLS franchise to Nashville, and the partnership between Ingram and Nashville SC was an effort to present a united front to MLS after Nashville was named one of ten finalist cities for four MLS franchises. In August 2017, Mark Wilf, Zygi Wilf and Leonard Wilf joined as investors; the Wilfs, owners of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, had previously backed an aborted MLS expansion bid in Minneapolis.
On December 19, 2017, news broke that Nashville would be awarded an expansion slot. The announcement was made official on December 20, 2017, when it was confirmed that the club would join MLS in 2020.
On October 30, 2018, Mike Jacobs was announced as the general manager of the franchise.
Nashville SC's inaugural MLS match was February 29, 2020, with the club hosting Atlanta United FC at Nissan Stadium. The game was played in front of 59,069 fans, becoming the highest attended soccer event in Tennessee history.Walker Zimmerman scored the first goal in the team's MLS history but they ultimately lost the match 2-1. However, their inaugural season came to a halt on March 12, 2020 after only two games when the MLS suspended the season for thirty days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 19, the season was suspended again, this time until May 10, 2020. Furthermore, the teams are prohibited from practicing in groups until the suspension is over.
Nashville SC's primary colors are electric gold and acoustic blue. The club's crest is a gold octagon with a monogram "N" and several vertical bars in blue. The vertical bars were chosen to represent sound waves and vibrations, referencing the city's musical history.
A 27,500-seat soccer-specific stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds is planned to be the team's home when it opens in 2022. The $275 million stadium will be mostly funded by revenue bonds from the Nashville government, per an agreement with the Nashville Metro Council that was approved in November 2017. The council approved the stadium on September 4, 2018, with the votes 31-yes and 8-no, with a crowd in the room of supporters and opponents in the audience. A proposal to submit the plan to a referendum based on Metro government's "partial funding" was rejected by the council, with the votes 25-yes (to reject the referendum) and 12-no (to permit).
In January 2019, John Rose, a U.S. representative from Cookeville led the nonprofit that operates the Tennessee State Fair to sue the team to halt construction, citing that the stadium would not leave adequate space required for the functions of the fair. However, in February of the same year, Rose and the nonprofit dismissed the lawsuit citing that city officials would not meet with the nonprofit while this suit was pending. Demolition on the Fairgrounds site began in March 2020.
The agreement of the stadium and its funding details was amended on February 13, 2020, with the help of Nashville Mayor John Cooper. The stadium will now be 100 percent privately funded and the team will also fund $19 million of infrastructure improvements in the immediate area.
|1||Goalkeeper||Joe Willis||United States|
|2||Defender||Daniel Lovitz||United States|
|3||Defender||Jalil Anibaba||United States|
|4||Defender||David Romney||United States|
|6||Midfielder||Dax McCarty||United States|
|8||Forward||Randall Leal (DP)||Costa Rica|
|10||Midfielder||Hany Mukhtar (DP)||Germany|
|13||Goalkeeper||Adrian Zendejas||United States|
|15||Defender||Eric Miller||United States|
|16||Defender||Ken Tribbett||United States|
|19||Forward||Alan Winn||United States|
|21||Midfielder||Derrick Jones||United States|
|22||Midfielder||Matt LaGrassa||United States|
|23||Defender||Taylor Washington||United States|
|25||Defender||Walker Zimmerman||United States|
|30||Goalkeeper||Elliot Panicco||United States|
|17||Forward||Cameron Lancaster (at Louisville City)||England|
|18||Defender||Jack Maher (GA, at Charlotte Independence)||United States|
|24||Midfielder||Tanner Dieterich (at Chattanooga Red Wolves)||United States|
|26||Midfielder||Luke Haakenson (at Charlotte Independence)||United States|
|Head coach||Gary Smith|
|Assistant coach||Steve Guppy|
|Assistant coach||Brett Jacobs|
|Goalkeeping coach||Matt Pickens|
|General manager||Mike Jacobs|
|Assistant general manager||Ally Mackay|
|Chief scout||Chance Myers|
|Director, strategy & analytics||Oliver Miller-Farrell|
Ingram's partners in the soccer club include Minnesota Vikings owners Mark, Zygi and Leonard Wilf, and the Turner Family, managing partners of Nashville-based MarketStreet Enterprises.
The Turners, who led the transformation of the Gulch neighborhood a decade ago, recently signed on as minority owners in the Ingram-led MLS investment group.