The sold out crowd of 9,059 could feel the crackle of electricity in the air as the Nashville Soccer Club played against the Atlanta United Football Club in their inaugural pre-season opener. Unfortunately, electricity was not the only thing in the Nashville air at First Tennessee Park. Torrential rain welcomed the Atlanta United FC who apparently was prepared for the weather as they came out with their flippers on swimming to a 3-1 lead over Nashville.
Nashville fans ignored the rain and supported the NSC until the end. The thunder of the drums and the chanting and cheering seemed to summon the rainstorm. Despite the weather, the sea of blue and gold faithful NSC fans could not be missed.
Players faced off against one another and against an unforgiving soggy, slippery field. Both teams struggled with kicks, passing, scoring, and simply staying on their feet. The wind, water, and turf kept the game scoreless at the half.
At the start of the second half, Atlanta scored. Nashville, then in possession of the ball, fired a pass to their goalie in an attempt to set up a scoring play. The ball spun and stopped mid-pass, landing in what could be called a kiddie-pool sized puddle directly in front of the Nashville goal. The gasps of disbelief were audible. Atlanta’s Josef Martinez wasted no time in capitalizing on what was essentially a gift and kicked in Atlanta’s first goal of the game.
Nashville’s Ropapa Mensah answered back 64 minutes into the match by scoring against Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann thus making history for the Nashville SC. The crowd erupted with excitement and for a moment, the cheers drowned out the sound of the rain. Mensah is the youngest player on the Nashville SC roster at age 20.
If Saturday was any indication, Nashville is ready to embrace professional soccer. Based on the number large number of Atlanta fans in attendance, Nashville might even be able to look forward to a healthy rivalry with Atlanta. Either way, Nashville showed that a little, or even a lot, of rain would not keep them from supporting the new home team.
The Nashville SC players surely felt the love and passion fueled by the fans and the sellout out the stadium amidst the downpour.
Growth and momentum will be paramount going forward for the Nashville SC. The next home game, about a month from now, is the regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Hounds on March 24th. Fans have time to get acquainted with their brand new soccer team because the Nashville SC is definitely here to stay and they aim to make their mark in Nashville sports.