Nashville SC To Face Toluga, Colorado Rapids In Group Stage Of Upcoming Leagues Cup

Nashville SC has been placed in the Central Region of the inaugural Leagues Cup 2023. The Boys in Gold will be in Group 4 alongside Toluca of LIGA MX and Colorado Rapids of MLS as the two organizations announced the 15 groups and four regions that will form the inaugural edition of the competition.

The official Concacaf competition will see all LIGA MX and MLS clubs pause their leagues’ action to compete in a World Cup-style tournament for the first time. Taking place between July 21-Aug. 19, the champion, second and third place finishers of Leagues Cup 2023 will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League.

The Leagues Cup 2023 groups were based on clubs’ 2022 performance, along with their geographic regions. Nashville SC finished eighth in the Supporters’ Shield Standings, which resulted in the corresponding Central Region placement first, alongside the other top 15 MLS clubs–excluding LAFC, the MLS Cup Champion.

The top 15 LIGA MX teams, based on the combined Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 standings–excluding the LIGA MX champion Fútbol Pachuca–were paired in reverse order with the top 15 MLS clubs (No. 15 LIGA MX seeded club has been paired with No. 1 MLS seeded club, and so on).

Continuing with the competitive balance criteria, the remaining 13 MLS clubs were placed in the groups based first on their geographic region, and then on their position in the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings.

Nashville SC and every other team will play two matches in the Group Stage, with the top two teams from each group, as determined by points, advancing to the Knockout Stage Round of 32.

No matches in the Leagues Cup Group Stage will end in a tie. If a match is tied after 90 minutes, it will proceed to a penalty shootout.

The Boys in Gold have faced Colorado twice in its MLS history, owning a 2W-0L-0D record in MLS play, while outscoring the Rapids 7-2. Reigning MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Hany Mukhtar has accounted for five of those goals, including a hat trick performance at GEODIS Park on Aug. 31, 2022.

Meanwhile, Nashville SC will face LIGA MX side Toluca for the first time in club history. Last September, Nashville SC competed in its first-ever international competition against Club América of LIGA MX in the 2022 Leagues Cup Showcase Series earning a victory via penalty kicks (4-2) following a 3-3 draw in regulation time.

For tiebreakers and other competition items, the Leagues Cup 2023 Competition Guidelines will be published in the coming months along with the Leagues Cup 2023 bracket and schedule. Ticketing information will be available once the bracket and schedule is set.

Nashville SC Names Former Premier League Player Jack Collison As Huntsville FC Head Coach

Jack Collison. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Huntsville City FC, Nashville SC’s MLS Next Pro team, has appointed Jack Collison as the club’s first head coach.

A former player of West Ham United in the English Premier League with a vast history of developing young talent in the U.S. and abroad, Collison will lead Huntsville in its inaugural MLS Next Pro season this spring.  

“Huntsville City FC is a unique opportunity that sits astride a number of key objectives,” says Nashville SC CEO and Huntsville City FC President, Ian Ayre. “In its purest form this is Huntsville’s own team, with its own identity, culture and team on the field; a team that soccer fans in Huntsville can connect with.” He continues, “MLS NEXT Pro is of course a key asset for Nashville SC and other MLS teams to develop talent for its Major League Soccer objectives. Jack is the ideal fit for this team with his broad mix of playing experience at a high level and the management of youth soccer programs in the UK and the US which give him a broad mix of experience. We believe with the guidance and support of our coaching staff at NSC, Jack and his team have the ideal platform to create something very special at HCFC.” 

Collison joins Huntsville City FC after two seasons at the helm of Atlanta United FC 2. He joined Atlanta 2 in June of 2021 after serving as head coach of the club’s U-17 Academy team. The former midfielder began his coaching career in 2015 with Peterborough’s Academy. In 2017, he returned to his playing club, West Ham United, where he coached the U-14, U-16 and U-18 squads through 2019. 

“When we looked at a profile of what we thought the leader of Huntsville City FC looked like, very quickly it became evident that Jack was the ideal candidate,” says Mike Jacobs, General Manager of Nashville SC and Huntsville City FC. “His ability to help develop future first team players for Nashville SC will be a critical asset in our pro player pathway. We are very excited about Jack’s addition, and know that he will play a key role in both growing players for NSC while also managing a very competitive team on the field in Huntsville.” 

Collison has managed over 130 matches in his career from the U-18 level to the USL Championship. While managing the Atlanta United Academy, Collison led the group to a 12W-0D-5L record with a plus 34 goal differential from 2019-21.  

As a player, Collison was a mainstay in English football where he made 121 appearances for West Ham United in the Premier League and Championship. He also played for Bournemouth in 2013, Wigan in 2014 and joined Peterborough United in 2015, where he retired in 2016. Internationally, Collison earned 17 caps for the Wales’ Senior National Team. 

“I am very excited at the prospect of bringing soccer to Rocket City and building a team that really represents the community,” Collison adds. “I will look to build an exciting, fast paced brand of soccer that can bring success on the pitch in Huntsville, whilst helping to develop some of the future stars for Nashville SC. My staff and I are currently hard at work to achieve these goals and can’t wait to see everyone packed inside the Joe Davis stadium supporting a team we can ALL be proud of.”

Joining Collison’s staff will be Assistant Coach Omar Jarun, Goalkeeper Coach John Berner and Nick Law, who will serve in the capacity of a player coach this season.  

Jarun most recently served as the Head Coach for the Atlanta United Academy and Interim Assistant Coach of Atlanta United 2. He started his collegiate career in Tennessee at the University of Memphis and went on to enjoy a senior career that spanned over a decade and included 15 caps for the Palestinian National Team.  

Berner, a native of St. Louis, joins the staff after a goalkeeping career that started as the 35th overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids. He made a total of 60 appearances in his senior career, 39 of those with Charlotte Independence. 

Law, a 34-year old attacking midfielder, grew up overseas in the Sheffield United Academy where he debuted in the Premier League on Nov. 4, 2006. His biggest leap while playing overseas came from 2013-16 as a member of Rangers FC in the Scottish Premiership where he scored 20 goals in 86 appearances. Law came to the States in 2021 and has appeared in 60 matches in the USL Championship.  

Also joining the technical staff ahead of the 2023 season will be Matt Batista as the club’s Analyst, Luis Rodas as the Athletic Trainer, Chris Romano as the Performance Coach, Caylor Feltman as the Team Administrator, and Sam Gibson as Equipment Manager.

Nashville Soccer Club Announces 2023 Preseason Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club will kick off its 2023 preseason on Monday, Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida with the first of three phases. Two of these phases will take place in Florida, and one of them in Music City.

The Boys in Gold will participate in seven preseason matches through Feb. 17.

Phase I will see Nashville SC compete in two preseason matches against the New York Red Bulls and the United States Men’s National Team U-20s before returning to Music City on Jan. 24. Phase II will see the Boys in Gold train in Nashville for a week before returning to Florida to start Phase III in St. Petersburg. While in Music City, Nashville will host Louisville City FC behind closed doors.

While back in Florida, Nashville SC is slated to compete in four preseason friendlies in the final phase against Eastern Conference opponents Orlando City SC, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati. See the Nashville SC Preseason Calendar section for a full breakdown of matches.

The 2023 preseason will lead to the start of a thrilling fourth season in Major League Soccer as the Boys in Gold start the year by hosting New York City FC on Feb. 25.

Nashville SC Acquires $525K In GAM From New England Revolution In Exchange For Dave Romney

Dave Romney. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club has acquired $525,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) from the New England Revolution in exchange for defender Dave Romney. Nashville will receive $250,000 in GAM in 2023 and $275,000 in 2024.   

Romney joined the club during a trade window in the fall of 2019, prior to the club’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Since then, the center back has appeared in 87 regular season matches for the Boys in Gold.  

This marks another step in a string of offseason moves that are setting up NSC for 2023

Though Romney has been an important member of Nashville SC’s fantastic defense these past three seasons, the addition of more GAM shows that the club is willing to exchange good defense to build an even better offense. The key goal is to bulk up their offense and build around Hany Mukhtar, who single-handedly carried the team to the playoffs.

Earlier in the offseason, Nashville SC dumped Aké Loba‘s contract and opened a new Designated Player spot for the team. In November, Nashville acquired Fabrice-Jean “Fafà” Picault from the Houston Dynamo, who can be extremely effective for the team as he’s been one of the top wingers in the league.

Nashville SC also finalized the transfer of Jacob Shaffelburg from Toronto in November. Shaffelburg played fantastic for Nashville in the short time since he came on loan. His permanent placement can help grow the offense as well.

Earlier this week, NSC signed USL star Tyler Freeman to a four-year contract. The 19-year-old shows raw talent that, in a proper MLS system, can make him a top competitor. Freeman will most likely begin his Nashville SC career with its MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville, but don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance in late 2023.

The club is not done making deals and fans should expect more moves before the season begins on Feb. 25 as NYCFC comes to GEODIS Park.

Nashville Sports Year In Review: The Top 10 Moments Of 2022

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look back at some of the best moments in the Nashville sports world from this past year.

From Nashville SC opening GEODIS Park to Hany Mukhtar‘s historic season, the second Music City Grand Prix, as well as Roman Josi‘s record breaking season with the Nashville Predators, 2022 saw quite a bit of activity this year in the city’s growing sports industry.

Here are The Sports Credential‘s Top 10 Nashville Sports Moments of 2022.

10 – The Nashville Stampede Win Inaugural PBR Team Series

The Nashville Stampede celebrating their championship win. Photo: Courtesy of the PBR

Professional Bull Riding introduced its team series in 2022, offering fans a new way to cheer for their favorite bull riders.

The Stampede was led by former PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco and head coach Justin McBride. The team finished the regular season with a record of 7-20-1, but ran the table at the Team Series Playoffs in Las Vegas where they ultimately won the inaugural season.

To read up on the team and the PBR Team Series, click here.

 

9 – Belmont Women’s NCAA Tournament Run

Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

It’s no secret that the Belmont women’s basketball team has been one of the best college athletic teams in the city for years now, but for the past two years, the team has been able to do what no Belmont WBB team has done before: win NCAA Tournament games.

In 2022, the Bruins took on No. 5 seed Oregon in the first round of the March Madness tournament and went on to win 73-70. Sophomores Tutti Jones and Destinee Wells put on a show where they scored 22 points and 16 points, respectively. This was the Bruins second NCAA Tournament win in program history.

Belmont later took on the Lady Vols of Tennessee on their home court in what was one of the best games of the tournament. Wells and Jones showed up big time again, scoring 22 points and 17 points, respectively, but ultimately fell just short, losing 70-67.

Despite their loss, the Belmont WBB managed to show how dominant of a team they are and will be for the coming seasons.

 

8 – Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore Named To USMNT World Cup Roster

Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore. Photos: Courtesy of Nashville SC

One of the biggest events of the year was undoubtedly the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The tournament, held in the winter instead of the summer, saw Nashville SC players Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore added to the USMNT roster. The Boys in Gold were one of only three clubs to have more than more of their players selected to the USA squad, and the pair were the first NSC players to play in a FIFA World Cup.

Zimmerman started and played all 90 minutes in three games for the USA, including the high-ratings match against England, which ended in a 0-0 draw. Moore played a combined 20 minutes in the tournament.

The U.S. fell to the Netherlands in the first round of the knockout stage 3-1, but Nashville SC successfully made its mark on the international stage.

 

7 – Scott Dixon Wins Dramatic Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

Scott Dixon celebrating his 2022 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix win in victory circle. Photo: Courtesy of the Music City Grand Prix.

The second annual Big Machine Music City Grand Prix this past August was one to remember as the NTT IndyCar Series Championship began heating up just as the series hit Nashville.

The already IndyCar legend Scott Dixon walked away victorious by beating Scott McLaughlin by just 0.106 seconds. This was also a record-breaking win for Dixon as he it was his 53rd career-win, making him the second most winningest driver in the sports history.

The New Zealand native started the race in 14th and found some trouble during his first pit stop. After a handful of cautions and some golden opportunities, the Chip Ganassi driver was able to find himself in the front and hold off the rest of the field.

He drove brilliantly and set himself up well to win the IndyCar season after the win in Nashville.

 

6 – Predators Host Stadium Series Game At Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium during the NHL Stadium Series. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators continued to shine in the national spotlight as they continue to host major events, most recently being a NHL Stadium Series game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in February. It was the first time an outdoor professional hockey game has ever been played in Nashville or at Nissan Stadium.

There was a lot of hype leading up to the game, which included a week long Winter Park around Bridgestone Arena and downtown Nashville. The game also included a star-studded halftime show with performances by Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert.

Sadly, the Preds fell 3-2  in what became a close and exciting game. If nothing else, Nashville once again proved they are a legit hockey town and that they can host a major sporting event as good as anyone.

 

5 – Mike Vrabel Named Coach of the Year

Mike Vrabel. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Tennessee Titans

The 2021-22 season was a crazy one for the Titans as they fought their way to the AFC’s No. 1 seed after suffering countless injuries, including losing Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry for half the season.

Leadership and roster decisions by head coach Mike Vrabel helped the Titans overcome and win the AFC South for a second-straight season. He was named the 2022-21 NFL Coach of the Year after leading the team to a great season despite having to play nearly 100 different players and without the league’s top rusher.

His success was recognized not only by the league, but also with a contract extension from the Titans

 

4 – Roman Josi Breaks Predators Single-Season Points Record

Roman Josi. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators’ 2021-2022 season ended in the first round of the NHL Playoffs, but not before Roman Josi broke the franchise record for points in a single season, finishing with an astounding 96 points.

Josi broke the record by picking up three points on three assists against the Ottawa Senators on April 8. With an outstanding performance last season, he broke the previous record set by Paul Kariya back in 2006. He was also named a Norris Trophy finalist.

Josi also made history when he became the NHL’s highest-scoring defenseman in 29 years, posting 23 goals, 73 assists and 96 points in 80 games. Only six defensemen in the past 50 years have scored more points in a single season.

 

3 – GEODIS Park Opens

GEODIS Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The opening of GEODIS Park was not only a big deal for Nashville SC and soccer in Tennessee, but also for Nashville as a whole. When GEODIS park opened in May 2022, it solidified NSC as the city’s soccer team and third professional sports team.

The stadium became the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. and Canada with a capacity of 30,000. It saw multiple sellouts throughout the season and hosted countless moments of Hany Mukhtar brilliance and memorable moments.

The stadium also offers a new music venue that is a middle ground for attendance between Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium. It is already set to host a string of concerts in 2023.

GEODIS Park will also host the USWNT in 2023 as part of the SheBelieves Cup.

 

2 – Hany Mukhtar Wins MLS Golden Boot & MVP

Hany Mukhtar with the Golden Boot and MVP Awards. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Only a few years ago, not many people would’ve imagined that a German-born soccer player would etch his name into Nashville sports history, but after winning the 2022 MLS Golden Boot and MVP, Hany Mukhtar has become a household name in Music City.

Mukhtar was nothing short of brilliant last season as he carried Nashville SC back to the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive year. He had a remarkable 34 goal contributions (23 goals, 11 assists) in 2022, which was tied for the fifth most in a single season in MLS history.

It was a tight race between him and Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi, but Mukhtar nearly ended that debate when he scored two goals against Austin late in the season.

The Boys in Gold struggled at times and found themselves in deep water, but Mukhtar’s performances carried them through. He scored or assisted on an incredible 65.4 percent of all Nashville SC’s goals in the 2022 season.

 

 

1 – Titans & Mayor Agree To Contract For New Football Stadium

Rendering of new Titans stadium. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

By far the biggest story of the year came when the Titans and Mayor’s office announced a deal to build a new, domed football stadium for the NFL franchise.

In early October, the team and Mayor John Cooper announced their plan that wouldn’t directly hit Nashville taxpayers or come from the city’s general fund. The deal includes a new lease, which will not force the city to pay for any repairs and will keep the Titans in Nashville long-term.

The proposed stadium would be a state-of-the-art building with a capacity of nearly 60,000. It will open the opportunity for Nashville to host the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs and even a NCAA Final Four.

This new stadium will cost over $2 billion, but will be paid for by the team and the NFL, $500 million in bonds by the state and by a sales tax in and around the stadium, as well as a new hotel occupancy tax. So far, the deal has passed the first wave of approval by the Metro Council and will most likely be finalized in early 2023.

Nashville Soccer Club Signs 19-Year-Old Forward Tyler Freeman

Tyler Freeman. Photo: Courtesy of the USL

Nashville Soccer Club has signed attacking forward Tyler Freeman to a four-year contract, via free agency.

Freeman is coming off a career-year where he scored eight goals in 24 appearances for Loudoun United FC of the USL Championship last season and played a 45-minute stint with Major League Soccer club D.C. United.

Loudoun, an affiliate team of D.C. United, sent Freeman to the country’s capital as Black-and-Red took on Flower City Union in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on April 19.

The 19-year-old is a product of the Sporting Kansas City Youth Academy. Playing since age 11, he became the second youngest player in Sporting Kansas City history to sign an MLS contract at the age of 15. Freeman made 35 appearances for Sporting Kansas City II during his time with the club.

At the international youth level, Freeman has represented the United States with their U-14, U-16 and U-17 national teams. He was instrumental in helping the U.S. to a second-place finish in the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship.

Nashville SC kicks off their season on Feb. 25 as they host NYCFC at GEODIS Park.

Nashville Soccer Club Adds Defender Laurence Wyke

Laurence Wyke. Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Soccer Club has signed veteran defender Laurence Wyke to a one-year contract with club options for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.   

Wyke began his professional career with Atlanta United FC after playing two seasons collegiately at Furman University. In his first professional season, Wyke made 29 starts over 26 appearances in the USL Championship, leading the team in tackles (67) and duels (305).   

The past two seasons, Wyke has been a mainstay for the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship where the defender made a total of 66 appearances with six goals and eight assists. Wyke anchored a Rowdies backline that finished at the top of the table in the 2021 regular season.  

Nashville SC Selects Six Players In The 2023 MLS SuperDraft

Nashville SC’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft first round pick Joey Skinner. Photo: Courtesy of MLS Communications.

Nashville Soccer Club selected 2023 Generation adidas defender Joey Skinner, defenders Sean Suber and Makel Rasheed, forwards Alex Meinhard and Lyam MacKinnon, and midfielder Rory O’Driscoll in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, presented by adidas.

Nashville added Skinner with the 11th overall pick after acquiring the pick from Charlotte FC via a trade on Dec. 12, 2021. Skinner played his sophomore season at Clemson University, appearing in every match for the Tigers in 2022. The defender transferred from UNC Greensboro, in which he was a first-team All-SoCon selection as a freshman in 2021, scoring four goals and registering seven assists, while anchoring the program to the best goal differential in the country (+38) and 10 clean sheets.

In the Second Round, Nashville SC selected defender Suber with the sixth pick. Suber played three seasons at UNC Charlotte, appearing in 37 matches. In his senior season, he was named Team Captain and guided Charlotte to its best start in program history with victories in each of its first seven matches.

With the second selection in the Second Round, Nashville SC selected forward Meinhard from the University of Tulsa. A prolific collegiate scorer, Meinhard recorded 29 goals in 39 appearances for Tulsa, including double-digit goal scoring efforts in back-to-back seasons. The attacker was selected as The American Offensive Player of the Year in 2021 and was First-Team All-Conference this past season.

Nashville SC had three selections in the Third Round, beginning with defender Rasheed from Xavier University. Rasheed played his senior season at Xavier after transferring from the University of Indianapolis. Across his four-year collegiate career, Rasheed appeared in 63 matches.

With the second selection in the Third Round, Nashville SC selected O’Driscoll from the University of New Hampshire. O’Driscoll made 63 appearances with 19 goals in four seasons.

The final selection of the night was forward MacKinnon from Villanova University. In three seasons for the Wildcats, MacKinnon scored 15 times in 49 appearances.

Nashville SC Selection Details from 2023 MLS SuperDraft:

JOEY SKINNER
Position: Defender
Height: 6-2
Weight: 155
Birthdate: 3/28/2003
Age: 19
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Nationality:United States
Last club: Clemson
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas

SEAN SUBER
Position: Defender
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Birthdate: 6/13/2001
Age: 21
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Nationality: United States
Last club: UNC Charlotte
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 6 pick in the Second Round (35th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas

ALEX MEINHARD
Position: Winger
Height: 5-11
Weight: 160
Birthdate: 11/26/1998
Age: 24
Hometown: Tartu, Estonia
Nationality: Estonia
Last club: University of Tulsa
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 20 pick in the Second Round (49th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas

MAKEL RASHEED
Position: Defender
Height: 6-4
Weight: 197
Birthdate: 5/14/2001
Age: 21
Hometown: Rockville, MD
Nationality: United States
Last club: Xavier
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 7 pick in the Third Round (65th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas

RORY O’DRISCOLL
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-10
Weight: 165
Birthdate: 2/16/2000
Age: 22
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
Nationality: United States
Last club: University of New Hampshire
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 20 pick in the Third Round (78th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas

LYAM MACKINNON
Position: Forward
Height: 6-1
Weight: 175
Birthdate: 9/25/199
Age: 23
Hometown: Lausanne, Switzerland
Nationality:  Switzerland
Last club: Villanova
How Acquired: Selected by Nashville SC with the No. 26 pick in the Third Round (84th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas