Updated: Mar 10, 2021
The home opening fixtures for the 2021 MLS season have been released, and Nashville SC have been given what the fans clamored for all last year. The Boys in Gold will kickoff the year against USL Championship rivals FC Cincinnati on April 17 at 7:30 pm.
The news broke right before a press conference with head coach Gary Smith and newly re-signed right back Eric Miller, so both were available to comment on the news.
"Local derbies are always a difficult game come what may," Smith said, "and to have it as the opening fixture will add a little spice to it."
"We have some guys around still from our USL days who played against Cincy then now to carry that over into MLS is special," Miller commented. "For our group of players to have that first opponent set and to have a goal in mind to look forward to helps a lot mentally to get through preseason."
Both men noted that this is not the same FCC from USL nor is it the same from the previous two years in MLS, mentioning the money spent in the offseason and the addition of Jaap Stam as the new head coach. Smith called Stam "one of the best defenders to walk this planet since I've been here" referring to Stam's playing days for clubs like Manchester United, AC Milan, and Ajax.
FCC and NSC started their rivalry in Nashville's first season in USL Championship in2018 when the two teams faced each other in a 4-4 preseason draw. The FCC fans took to calling Nashville forward Tucker Hume "Big Bird" due to his height and the yellow kit. What followed were two more draws, one home and one away, in the regular season. Then came the first round of the playoffs with NSC going North to face Cincy. The match ended in a draw in regular time and extra time with Nashville falling in penalties to the club that was already set to join MLS.
The next season saw Nashville hit the top of the USL Championship table and Cincinnati hit the bottom. When Nashville joined MLS in 2020, fans of both clubs hoped for the rivalry to be rekindled, but with the COVID-19 restart, the league kept the two teams separated. Nashville made the playoffs and lost in the conference semifinals to eventual champion Columbus Crew while FC Cincinnati found the bottom of the table for the second consecutive season. Now the rivalry can continue much to the joy of both fanbases. For now, enjoy this thread of goals against Cincy courtesy of Pharmaceutical Soccer.