There’s no question that soccer’s popularity in the US has steadily been on the rise in recent years. The sport’s growth stateside is due largely in part to American youth, with youth soccer participation doubling football. Youth soccer also has one million more participants than baseball. Thanks to increased advertising, large audiences on game days, and modern, state-of-the-art facilities, interest in one of history’s oldest sports is at an all time high in the US. With the addition of MLS expansion teams like Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF, it’s safe to say its allure is not fading anytime soon.
Nashville SC plays Atlanta United FC at Nissan Stadium on February 29. The team announced the official date of their first-ever Major League Soccer game earlier this week, with their CEO Ian Ayre insisting that the club’s first match will spark a rivalry for years to come.
"Since the day I got appointed as CEO of Nashville Soccer Club, one of the first people to call me was (President of Atlanta United FC) Darren Eales," Ayre said in a phone interview. "One of the first comments he made was, 'We cannot wait for you guys to get to MLS. You'll be our biggest rival. Let's bring it on.' That still rings true today."
Nashville SC played four matches at Nissan Stadium while playing in the United Soccer League for the past two seasons, boasting attendance records around 18,000. The team is expecting a much larger turnout for their MLS opener this February.
Inter Miami CF
After a four-year-long struggle to establish an MLS team in Miami, David Beckham’s efforts finally came to fruition back in early 2018. Now, Inter Miami CF is ready to charge the field at Inter Miami Stadium (former site of Lockhart Stadium) as an MLS expansion team in 2020.
Inter Miami plays the LA Galaxy on March 14 in their first MLS match. While their first game is still four months away, Miami is more than ready to cheer their team on.
Hundreds of fans offered a glimpse of what the stadium atmosphere will look and sound like earlier this week, decked out in black and pink, singing in Spanish and English, and banging on drums at the team headquarters for a party to celebrate the MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday night.
Inter Miami had the number one overall pick in the draft, using their advantage to pick up New York City FC left back Ben Sweat. Sweat, a Florida native, played at University of South Florida and in Europe before joining MLS. He’s played a total of 79 games for NYCFC, as well as two games for the US national team in 2018.
Opening Game Info
Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United FC
February 29, 7:00 pm
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy
March 14, 2:30 pm
Inter Miami Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, FL