Almost exactly a year ago, Major League Soccer announced Nashville SC would join the league in 2020. The Music City club then had a successful debut season in the second-tier United Soccer League, losing in the first round of the playoffs to 2019 MLS expansion side FC Cincinnati.
And now, Nashville will continue its MLS preparations by hosting New York City FC in a preseason friendly Feb. 22 at First Tennessee Park.
“We’re really excited to go to Nashville to play a friendly match against a very good USL side in front of some of the country’s best supporters,” NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent said in a statement released by the club Monday.
Nashville, guided by former Atlanta Silverbacks FC manager Gary Smith, finished eighth in the USL’s Eastern Conference in 2018 to qualify for the playoffs. Along the way, Nashville blanked MLS’ Colorado Rapids 2-0 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup before succumbing to Louisville City — the 2018 USL champion — in the Round of 16.
Nashville SC averaged an announced 9,561 spectators in its inaugural USL season. Old Bridge, N.J., native and former New York Red Bulls forward Brandon Allen was their leading scorer with eight goals. Allen is the brother of former New York City defender R.J. Allen, who now plays for Orlando City SC.
“It’ll be a good test in a road environment this preseason,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said. “Opportunities like this are instrumental in preparing us for the challenges that lie ahead.”
New York City completed its fourth season in MLS with a third place finish in the Eastern Conference.
For the third consecutive season, City was eliminated in the conference semifinals – this year by eventual MLS Cup champion Atlanta United.
Nashville hosted Atlanta to open its 2018 preseason. The home team lost 3-1 in front of an announced 9,059 spectators at First Tennessee Park, whose primary tenants are the Nashville Sounds, a Triple-A minor league baseball team.