Team Profile: Nashville SC
Updated: Feb 13
Year founded: 2017.
First season in MLS: 2020.
Stadium: GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN.
2023 highlights: Nashville's fourth season in MLS will be bookended by games against New York City and New York Red Bulls. They host NYCFC in the season opener on February 26th, and travel to Red Bull Arena for their 34th contest on October 21st. Nashville returns to the Eastern Conference after a season out West. Their cross-conference fixtures this season include home games with LAFC, newcomers St. Louis, and Seattle Sounders. Road games at Western Conference opposition take them to FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, and San Jose Earthquakes. They have a five-game run from mid-April to mid-May, of which four are at home. The reverse is true in June, with just one of five at GEODIS Park. Nashville's last road trip of the regular season takes to Philadelphia Union on October 7th.
Head Coach: Gary Smith.
Players to watch: Hany Mukhtar, Fafa Picault.
Kemy Amiche (waivers) Nick DePuy (trade from LA Galaxy) Tyler Freeman (free transfer) Ben Martino (homegrown) Nebiyou Perry (free) Fafa Picault (trade from Houston) Jacob Shaffelburg (trade from Toronto) Joey Skinner (Generation adidas) Laurence Wyke (free transfer)
Handwalla Bwana (mutually part ways) Robert Castellanos (option declined) Irakoze Donasiyano (option declined) Aké Loba (loan to Mazatlán FC) Bryan Meredith (option declined) Will Meyer (option declined) Eric Miller (contract expired) Dave Romney (trade to New England)
2022 summary: after spending their first two seasons in the Eastern Conference 92020-21), Nashville SC were among the teams in the Western Conference last year and ended up reaching the postseason for a third time. They finished seventh in their first season, sixth in season two, and ended up in fifth in 2022. They were tied with LA Galaxy on points (50), but the California club snatched fourth courtesy of one more win. Nashville won one of their last four, this having won four in a row, and prior to that going six without success. Clearly, though, another solid season for Gary Smith's side, who played the first eight games on the road as their new stadium was being completed. Their first match at GEODIS Park was a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union on May 1st. Nashville claimed fifth on the final day with a 1-0 win at LAFC. Finishing where they did meant a return to California for a first round postseason meeting with the Galaxy, which they lost by the same scoreline.
Facts and Stats: Nashville enjoyed a first season inside GEODIS Park, though it was not the happiest of homes. Indeed, along with CF Montreal and New York Red Bulls, the team from Tennessee were one of three to have better road records than home. At home they were 6-5-6, while on the road they managed 7-5-5. Hany Mukhtar was the MLS golden boot winner after netting 23 goals. He was also named the league's MVP. Without Mukhtar, you wonder where Nashville may have finished last season. His 23 goals were 44 per cent of the team's total. The next best scorers were C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury, who both scored five.
Dax McCarty is still going aged 35. He was drafted number six overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. Marvell Wynne was picked at number one. Others in that first round include Mehdi Ballouchy (2), Yura Movsisyan (4), Sacha Kljestan (5), and Kei Kamara (9).
Milestones in 2023: goalkeeper Joe Willis is one shutout away from 50 clean sheets in MLS. Of those, 31 have come in the colors of Nashville. Gary Smith is four short of 200 regular season games as an MLS head coach. Walker Zimmerman sits six away from 200 MLS starts. Veteran Dax McCarty is 11 away from 450 appearances, and five shy of 400 starts. This will be McCarty's 18th season, drawing level with the recently retired Drew Moor. Once he makes his first appearance of 2023, only two players in the history of the league will have played in more seasons. They are Kyle Beckerman (21) and Nick Rimando (20).