NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Professional soccer is in Music City. After years of working to bring a team to Nashville, the city's new USL team, Nashville SC, was scheduled to take the pitch for the first time on Saturday against Atlanta United FC, an MLS team.
It isn't just the start of a season for the players and fans, but the start of a new tradition in Tennessee.
"We tell people all the time, we're no different than FC Barcelona or Manchester United, we're just 125 years behind, but with the help of the community, we're going to catch up quickly to those guys," Court Jeske, CEO of Nashville SC, said.
In the past year a lot has happened for soccer in Nashville, most notably, the city was awarded an MLS franchise, but for soccer fans, the match on Saturday is what they had been hoping for for years.
"We want to be exciting, we want to bring energy, and we want to bring a winning environment at home," Bradley Bourgeois, a defender with Nashville SC, said.
The game was scheduled to be the first time a soccer match would be played at First Tennessee Park, a venue used for Sounds baseball.
"It's almost a cutting of the ribbon, a grand opening if you'd like of a franchise," Gary Smith, head coach of Nashville SC, said. "We want to make sure on the field that we give the fans a good viewing of some of the things we're capable of."
Members of the team said they hope fans show up in droves to create an environment unlike any other, which shouldn't be a problem, considering they sold out the match and have also sold more than 5,000 season tickets prior to the first appearance on the pitch.
"To be part of a new soccer movement in a thriving city and environment doesn't' come around for people very often," Robin Shroot, a forward with Nashville SC, said.
While tickets are sold out for Saturday's match, season tickets are still on sale for Nashville SC's inaugural season. Details on tickets and future matches can be found on their website.