The Away End | Nashville SC with Chris Ivey 


New York City Football Club take on Nashville SC on Saturday night.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Chris Ivey, a writer covering Nashville for Broadway Sports Media.

Hi Chris, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering Nashville?

I’ve been covering Nashville SC since 2021 for Broadway Sports Media.

What has been your highlight in that time?

Last year’s Leagues Cup run to the final.

Nashville knocked out Club América in one of the most thrilling and bizarre ends to a soccer match that you will ever see. In the semifinals, the Boys in Gold topped Mexican giants Monterrey sealing victory in stoppage time to send the club to its first-ever cup final.

With a seeding advantage, Nashville’s GEODIS Park played host to Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami. The Leagues Cup final was, by far and away, the biggest moment in soccer history for the State of Tennessee. It was a remarkable moment for a city that only fielded amateur teams less than a decade prior. While the result did not go Nashville’s way, Inter Miami captured the title in the 11th round of penalties, it is still a match that I will never forget.

What were your thoughts on the 2023 season?

Last year was a rollercoaster ride for Nashville SC. The club raced out to a fast start and threatened to challenge F.C. Cincinnati at the top of the Eastern Conference. A mid-summer dip in form pushed Nashville down the table. The Leagues Cup break came at the perfect time as several key pieces returned to health and the club added striker Sam Surridge on a Designated Player deal. After an exhausting Leagues Cup run, Nashville won just two of its final ten matches and exited the MLS Cup Playoffs in a first-round loss to Orlando City.

In totality, 2023 was a moderately successful season. The disappointment in MLS play was buoyed by the Leagues Cup run. However, the season showed supporters glimpses of the systemic issues that grew into a much larger problem in 2024.

What are your hopes for the 2024 season?

The primary hope is that Nashville continues its perfect record of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs every season.

Right now, Nashville stands at a crossroads. A few weeks ago, the club dismissed Gary Smith, the only coach in club history. With interim manager Rumba Munthali, Nashville has climbed the table with a few quality wins on the road. However, a new permanent manager announcement appears imminent.

With the transfer window opening next month, Nashville must focus on strengthening its midfield. The club has yet to adequately replace Dax McCarty's ball-progressing abilities. Securing a player who can enhance Nashville's attacking buildup will be crucial in determining whether the team makes it to the postseason again.

What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?

Whether Nashville SC can bait New York City further up the field.

Nashville, historically, struggle at home when opposing teams sit deeper, stay organized, and dare the hosts to beat them with the ball. Hany Mukhtar and company are excellent on the counter, and Nashville are at their best when their opponents desire to dictate the game leaving space to exploit in behind. When that space is not provided, Nashville can find it difficult to create goal-scoring opportunities.

If New York City are patient and wait for their own chances to create on the break, they can steal a goal and perhaps a result on the road.

And for any fans that might be in Nashville for the game are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?

If it's your first time in Music City, be sure to visit Broadway and its vibrant row of live-music honky tonks. While it is the cliché tourist activity, it's the heart of why millions of visitors flock to Nashville each year.

For returning visitors, consider exploring beyond the downtown entertainment core. East Nashville, 12 South, The Nations, Germantown, and other neighborhoods each offer unique places worth discovering.

GEODIS Park, located two miles south of downtown in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, has spurred significant growth in the area while maintaining a cozy, residential feel similar to Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The north end of Wedgewood-Houston boasts a variety of bars, restaurants, and breweries. Don't miss Diskin Cider, which offers a fantastic selection of ciders and a complimentary shuttle to the stadium with any food or drink purchase. For a more community-oriented experience, the supporters' tailgate area at Fair Park is perfect for mingling with dedicated Nashville fans and provides a space for kids to play.

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