On the day that Nashville SC had a preseason friendly against New York Red Bulls canceled due to a positive COVID test from an official, the league released its regular schedule for the 2021 season. Nashville SC starts off the year with a four game homestand against FC Cincinnati, CF Montreal, Inter Miami CF, and New England Revolution. In fact, in the first half of the season, only six of Nashville's matches are away.
The Boys in Gold are back in the Eastern Conference and will only play two teams from the Western Conference in Real Salt Lake and newcomers Austin FC which will be away and home respectively. Decision Day will see NSC host Red Bulls on Sunday, November 7.
“Everybody is excited to see MLS back for the 2021 season,” said Ian Ayre, Nashville SC CEO. “It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year for everyone including soccer. However, as we continue to see progress in vaccine distribution and other areas, we are encouraged to see that many things are moving in a good direction.
(video courtesy of Nashville SC)
“Our players are back to practice and pre-season, we have new players on our roster that we expect to bring greater depth to our team and our fans and our city continue to show their support by increasing the number of season tickets we have sold for 2021 beyond those we sold in 2020. With our new stadium on the horizon and a chance to have increased capacities of fans at games whilst maintaining the necessary safety and distancing, all point to exciting times ahead,” concluded Ayre.
This schedule does not include the 2021 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup which was canceled last year due to the pandemic. The field has been shortened this year from 107 teams to 24 with 16 lower division clubs facing off in the first round May 4-5 and eight MLS clubs facing the winners of those matches on May 18-19. It is unclear as of now which MLS clubs will qualify. NSC had qualified for the CONCACAF Leagues Cup for this season, but will miss out due to the field being cut in half.
In addition to the four match homestand at the beginning of the season, the first half also includes a five match homestand against Toronto FC, CF Montreal, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United FC, and Chicago Fire FC from June 23 through July 17. Of the 34 matches, 14 are on Saturdays, 10 on Sundays, and three will be nationally televised on ESPN, FS1, and Univision.
USL rivals FC Cincinnati will play twice in Nashville and host once while last season's opening opponent Atlanta United will host twice and come to Nissan Stadium once. The two Canadian teams Nashville will face, Toronto FC and CF Montreal, do not currently have a home stadium listed as they will be playing in the United States all year like they did last year unless COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and international travel is allowed. Of the playoff opponents Nashville faced last fall, Inter Miami CF host twice and come to Nashville once as with Toronto FC, while Columbus Crew FC split two matches home and away.
Be sure to go to www.NashvilleSC.com to download your match schedule directly to your calendar, and follow @NSCGoldenBoy on Twitter for all your NSC news.