Nashville Soccer Club To Host Club América In Leagues Cup Showcase Match

Just one day after getting knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup, Nashville Soccer Club has announced that it will play LIGA MX powerhouse Club América on Sept. 21 in its first-ever international match at GEODIS Park as part of the Leagues Cup Showcase.

The Leagues Cup Showcase series will serve as a preview to the highly anticipated 2023 Leagues Cup between all MLS and Liga MX Clubs next summer. In addition to the match in Nashville, the Leagues Cup Showcase will also feature matches in Cincinnati and Salt Lake City as they host Club Deportivo Guadalajara and Atlas FC, respectively.

“We could not be more excited about hosting our first international match at GEODIS Park,” says Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre. “Nashville has been buzzing with excitement for soccer since we started in MLS in 2020 and even more so since we opened the doors to our new home. Facing off here against Mexico’s most decorated club side is an awesome next step on our soccer journey.”

MLS and LIGA MX–which entered a partnership in 2018 rooted in the on-field rivalry as well as the spirit of collaboration off the field–will pause their respective seasons for one month during the 2023 summer to play Leagues Cup, showcasing the soccer infrastructure and capabilities in the region in the years leading into the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“We’re happy and excited to visit our amazing fans in Nashville as it’s very important to us to stay connected to them and all our fans in the U.S.,” says Sporting President of Club América Santiago Baños. “The timing couldn’t be better as we will face our rival just days before Liguilla (LIGA MX playoffs). As a result, fans can expect our team to be in top shape and at our best moment. It will be a great match.”

Nashville SC season ticket holders will be able to opt into this match starting on July 5 through July 19. Starting the following day, season ticket holders, deposit holder members and groups will have priority access to purchase tickets through an exclusive one-day presale. Tickets to the public will be go on sale on Thursday, July 21 at 9 a.m. CT via Ticketmaster.

The Leagues Cup Showcase, sponsored by BODYARMOR, will be broadcast on Univision and ESPN platforms in the United States, and TUDN platforms in Mexico.

Additional information on the September matches, including media accreditation, will be announced at a later date.

Nashville SC Falls In Penalty Shootout To Orlando, Ends U.S. Open Cup Run

Pictured (L-R): Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar, Dan Lovitz. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

After a great run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Nashville SC’s journey has ended after falling to Orlando City in a penalty shootout in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

MLS Player of the Week Hany Mukhtar put the Boys in Gold up 1-0 in the 52nd minute, but a late and controversial call set up a free-kick for Orlando where they equalized 1-1 at the 90+4 minute. Nashville would go on to lose 6-5 in penalties as Alex Muyl and Eric Miller both missed their shots.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group, honestly,” said head coach Gary Smith in a postgame press conference. “I thought that in the opening exchanges and the first half, in general, we created enough moments and enough opportunities, and we played with some real drive. The guys really got after the game and to be honest, looking back now, we probably missed the boat a little bit.”

Elliot Panicco was in the net for Nashville and made some fantastic plays and great saves, but conceded the late goal off of a misread where he came out of his line and left the net wide open for Orlando to score.

“Elliott had been absolutely magnificent all night. We got caught up in a difficult challenge inside on the edge of the six-yard box from the free kick and  of course, it rebounds, they get their fortune and we end up going to penalties,” Smith added.

One of the biggest discussions after the game was the officiating.

Nashville received an unprecedented 11 yellow cards and Sean Davis received a red card after getting his second yellow in the first minute of extra time. Nashville was then forced to play with only 10 men in extra time.

The Boys in Gold were never able to create a clear scoring opportunity in extra time. Panicco and even coach Smith received yellow cards throughout the match.

Because the U.S. Open Cup doesn’t have Video Assistant Referee (VAR), it leaves all calls up to the lead referee on the field regardless of how detrimental a call may be.

“They played very, very well in a tough environment and we were let down a little bit by the officials in a situation where we needed someone to be strong,” Smith noted. “We needed somebody in the middle tonight in a tough game against a side that are not the easiest to contend with. Unfortunately, I felt [the officials] fell short.”

Orlando will now host the New York Red Bulls for the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on July 27.

Next up for NSC, they will be heading back home to play Portland on Sunday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT. A win against Portland could put the Boys in Gold in second place in the Western Conference.

Hany Mukhtar Named MLS Player of the Week, Nashville SC Reaches Season Midpoint

Hany Mukhtar. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The MLS season has come to its midway point and Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar played one of his best games of the season against D.C. United on Saturday (June 25) where he scored twice and was named MLS Player of the Week.

Mukhtar has been excellent so far this season, recording his third brace in Nashville’s 3-1 road win at D.C. United helping the club to surpass 100 goals in MLS regular season history in the process. The German national has accounted for 49 of Nashville’s 101 goals in their regular season history.

Since the start of 2021, Mukhtar leads all players with 41 goal contributions (24 goals, 17 assists). Additionally, Mukhtar’s 24 goals are the third-most in MLS during that span and he is the only player with at least 20 goals and 15 assists. Of his 49 career goal contributions, 25 of those have come on the road, which is also a league best since 2020.

His contributions will be needed if the Boys in Gold want to have a better performance in this second half of the season. Nashville SC finds itself in fifth place in the Western Conference standings with 26 points and a record of 7-5-5.

Randall Leal celebrating his equalizing goal against Philadelphia at the GEDOIS Park opener. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville opened the season with eight straight road games as GEODIS Park finished construction. They were able to pick up 11 points in eight games before they opened their new permanent home at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

GEODIS Park was nicknamed “El Castillo” or “The Fortress,” but so far it hasn’t been the impenetrable home-field the club and its fans had hoped for. They’ve played six league home games since May 1 and have only won two, with draws against Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Jose.

Most recently and notably, NSC had back-to-back games at home where they drew 0-0 with San Jose, and then suffered a brutal loss to the league’s worst in Sporting Kansas City.

Only picking up one point and scoring one goal after playing the two worst teams in the league at home is something this team isn’t very familiar with, but will need to bounce back from.

They picked up a solid 3-1 win against D.C. United in the nation’s capital and will face Orlando City in Orlando for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals today (June 29). Nashville SC head back to GEODIS Park on Sunday (July 3) to face Portland and start the second half of its season.

Joe Willis. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The Boys in Gold have scored 22 goals and conceded 19 goals with starting goaltender Joe Willis struggling compared to his first two seasons with the club. He’s conceded 18 goals and has a save percentage of 72 percent. He has had some great performances this season, but he’s also had some doozy’s making poor choices which ended with the ball in the back of Nashville’s net.

Injuries have had an impact on the team as Randall Leal has finally recovered from an ankle injury he sustained in early May. Nashville’s midfield also suffered when Dax McCarty and Walker Zimmerman weren’t in the lineup. The poor performances against San Jose and Kansas City are results from this.

Nashville is just three points behind Real Salt Lake, who sit in second place in the conference.

This July, NSC will play Portland, Charlotte, Seattle, LAFC, Cincinnati, and Vancouver. Only two of those games are away and LAFC is the only team they’re facing with a better record.

CJ Sapong. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

July could be a major step for Nashville. If they can pickup at least 11 points this month, the Boys in Gold find themselves at the top of the standings with an opportunity to hold and eventually secure a home playoff game.

However, the offense needs to turn up. CJ Sapong (five goals), Alex Muyl (two goals), and Ake Loba (one goal) will be extremely important factors if the club wants to compete at the top of the Western Conference table.

Nashville SC Officially Sells 23,000 Season Tickets, Opens Waitlist For 2023

Nashville SC Supporters Section at GEODIS Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club has surpassed 23,000 Season Ticket Memberships (STM) and sold out of its allotment of season tickets for the 2022 Major League Soccer season at GEODIS Park.

This historic moment has prompted the club to open a waitlist for 2023 season tickets for fans still wanting to be a part of the MLS action.

Following the 2023 STM renewal period and ability to relocate seats, fans on the waitlist will be contacted by the club in order of priority for newly available season ticket options. Fans can get a more in-depth view of GEODIS Park seating by visit Nashville SC’s Virtual Venue for an architecturally accurate 3D map and seat views.

“Everyone at Nashville Soccer Club has literally been blown away by the size of the support, energy and commitment that Nashville has shown to our team and particularly to our new home GEODIS Park,” says Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre. “To reach the number we defined originally as our cap for season tickets in our first season in the stadium is truly outstanding.

He continues, “Twenty-three thousand puts us in the top group of MLS team season ticket memberships only behind teams like Atlanta United and the Seattle Sounders, all of whom play in shared stadiums with NFL teams. Another great example of Nashville competing at the highest level.”

For current STM’s, the renewal process for the 2023 season will begin July 1 at 10 a.m. CT and continue through July 31. Later this month, STM’s will receive information regarding 2023 season pricing, as well as instructions on how to log into and manage their accounts. The first payment of auto-renewals for STM’s will run on Aug. 1.

As part of the 2023 renewal package, STM’s will be able to be a part of the newest club tournament in North American soccer, the Leagues Cup. Here, all MLS and Liga MX clubs will pause their respective seasons to face each other in an annual, month-long tournament.

Officially sanctioned by Concacaf, the Leagues Cup champion will earn automatic qualification to the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Clubs finishing second and third in Leagues Cup will qualify for the CCL Opening Round.

Leagues Cup 2023 is the latest and most ambitious step in the growing partnership between MLS and Liga MX to further elevate the special rivalry, sport and confederation. Leagues Cup 2023 will make history as the first major soccer tournament to feature every club from a pair of top-flight leagues.

Nashville SC Snaps 22-Game Unbeaten Streak At Home After Abysmal Loss To Kansas City

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

After going unbeaten at home for 22-straight MLS matches, Nashville SC suffered its first home loss to Kansas City who won 2-1 in one of the poorest performances the Boys in Gold have had all season.

Nashville has only picked up one point in the last two weeks with back-to-back home games against the two worst teams in the league in San Jose and Sporting KC. Both poor performances from NSC have pushed them to sixth place in the conference, just three points ahead of the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“Obviously [we’re] really frustrated and disappointed,” said head coach Gary Smith in a postgame press conference. “Deep down inside you always feel that this day will come. You hope it’s going to go on a tad longer, given the way we’ve been able to play here and perform at home. [We’re] just real disappointed in the way the game unfolded.”

Nashville SC supporters section at GEODIS Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The Boys in Gold were unable to make many opportunities out of the midfield, failing to create anything offensively in the first half. The lack of creativity allowed Kansas City to set up a free kick outside of the penalty box where Felipe Hernández scored, getting the ball just by Joe Willis in the 41st minute.

Maybe adjustments were needed in the first half, but any momentum that was to be created was stifled after KC scored in the 50th minute to go up 2-0. Nashville would play catch-up for the remainder of the game.

“I’ve got to shoulder some of the blame here,” said Smith. “We played with three, what we would class, genuine midfield players. My mindset was to try and control that midfield area and get our wingbacks in more aggressive positions. And quite honestly, we just weren’t able, in possession, to be effective enough to manage the ball well and move it sharply enough.”

He continued,  “That ultimately set the scene for what we saw in the first period. I think the inclusion of Aké [Loba] in the second period helped galvanize a more purposeful approach, but there were definitely some dings over the last two games that we need to look back at and digest probably a little bit deeper, certainly the footage of this one. It’ll be a lot clearer in my mind as to some of the steps we need moving forward to get back to that type of form that has given us a lot of joy.”

Ake Loba. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville got on the board in the 63rd minute on a Loba goal, his first at GEODIS Park.

It was a highly contentious game with physical play, as well as some controversial calls which included a penalty on Kansas City that was later called back due to Nashville being offside. NSC had four offside calls, one of which was called by the penalty and one that would’ve resulted in an equalizing goal in the 85th minute.

Nashville heads to the nations capital to face D.C. United on Saturday, June 25 before returning home for the Fourth of July Weekend to play the Portland Timers on Sunday, July 3.

Both teams are currently in the bottom of the standings.

Nashville Fails To Be Named 2026 FIFA World Cup Host City

Nissan Stadium. Photo: Tanner Boriack

After a long and extensive effort by the city, Nashville was not selected as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

FIFA announced all 16 host cities in an event held in New York City where 11 American cities were picked as hosts, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. Three Mexican cities were picked, including Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey, while Toronto and Vancouver were the only two Canadian cities selected.

Nashville hosted a FIFA delegation in the summer of 2021 where officials were given tours of the city’s facilities and Nissan Stadium.

Concerns arose when the Titans announced that they would be looking to either build a new, enclosed stadium or renovate Nissan Stadium. The cost would be over $2 billion, but nothing has been solidified.

The Titans announced that it would cost $1.8 billion to repair Nissan Stadium, which the city hasn’t agreed to pay for.

If a new stadium is to be built there was no timeline for if it would be completed by the 2026 World Cup.

Cities that were rumored to outrank Nashville for a bid were Kansas City, Cincinnati, Boston, Baltimore/ Washington D.C. and a third Mexican city. Monterrey, Kansas City and, to the surprise of some on social media, Boston were selected.

The games in Boston will be held at at Gillet Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, which is in Foxboro–nearly an hour outside of downtown Boston.

Apple TV, MLS Announce Exclusive Broadcasting Deal Beginning In 2023

Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) have announced that Apple TV will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023. The two parties have signed a 10-year deal.

This partnership is a historic first for a major professional sports league and will allow fans around the world to watch all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches in one place–without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay TV bundle.

This live and on-demand MLS content will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes views of the players and clubs. A broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches, including some of the biggest matchups, will also be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches available for free. Access to the new MLS streaming service will be included as part of MLS full-season ticket packages.

“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” says MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Given Apple’s ability to create a best-in-class user experience and to reach fans everywhere, it’ll be incredibly easy to enjoy MLS matches anywhere, whether you’re a super fan or casual viewer.”

In addition to all of the match content, the service will provide fans a new weekly live match whip-around show so they never miss an exciting goal or save, as well as game replays, highlights, analysis, and other original programming.

At launch, all MLS and Leagues Cup matches will include announcers calling the action in English and Spanish, and all matches involving Canadian teams will be available in French. Apple and MLS will also provide enhanced league and club coverage for fans to easily follow the league or their favorite clubs in Apple News, with the ability to watch highlights right in the News app.

“For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” says Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Services. “It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, soccer fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration—just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch. We can’t wait to make it easy for even more people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favorite club.”

Complete details for the new service, including when fans can sign up, subscription pricing, specific details about the new MLS programming, an improved match schedule, broadcast teams, production enhancements, and pre and postgame coverage will be announced in the coming months.

Will Alexander Steps Down As Nashville SC Chief Revenue Office

Will Alexander. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club’s Chief Revenue Officer, Will Alexander, has stepped down from his role with the team to return to Hall Capital where he will serve as Chief Investment Officer, the club announced on Tuesday (June 14) morning.

Alexander was an initial architect of Nashville’s MLS expansion bid and was instrumental in helping grow the movement to bring professional soccer to Music City. He was the co-founder of the MLS2Nashville Committee and was key in bringing together the ownership group.

He will remain a minority owner moving forward.

“It’s bittersweet to see Will leave us, but he is certainly leaving the club in an excellent position,” says Nashville SC Owner John Ingram. “In some ways, Will is responsible for helping put all the pieces together that led to us getting an MLS team, so I will always be incredibly grateful to him and all the hours he put into turning professional soccer from a dream into a reality. While he may be stepping away from his role with us, I look forward to seeing him at many matches moving forward.”

As Chief Revenue Officer for the club, Alexander helped propel its rise as a premier club in MLS. Among a number of successful moves, he sold out the premier seats and suites at GEODIS Park, as well as secured a host of high-profile naming partners, including Renasant Bank, Hyundai, Vanderbilt Health and Valkyrie among many others.

“Will has been a wonderful partner and colleague, and we absolutely would not be where we are today without him,” adds Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre. “His stepping down at this time is a fairly normal practice in the sport, as we’ve now successfully opened GEODIS Park and have our sponsors set for the foreseeable future. Again, neither of those two things would have been possible without him. I wish him nothing but the best in his new role at Hall Capital.”