MLS grants Nashville expansion club, propelling Music City from underdog to ‘soccer city’
Nashville has landed Major League Soccer’s 24th franchise, making Music City a three-team major professional sports city and reaching another milestone in the city’s breakneck growth.
In front of a boisterous, electrified crowd of scarf-wearing Nashville Soccer Club fans and city boosters, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made the worst-kept secret official Wednesday, telling a crowd at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that Nashville has been picked for league expansion.
The news leaked the previous morning. But this was a moment for celebration — a party, really — as soccer fans marched into the event chanting and heard the news they wanted to hear from the only man who could deliver it.
“This is a city that we’ve really fallen in love with,” Garber said in an interview. “Everything about it fits our brand. We’re young. We’re on the rise. We’re very diverse. We’re very interested in trying to do things a bit differently than the other pro sports leagues have done. We recognize that we’ve just finished our 22nd season. We’ve got generations of growth in front of us.”
It’s unclear whether Nashville will begin play in 2020, as originally proposed, or earlier in 2019, which the commissioner didn’t rule out. Garber said a decision will be announced later.
Nashville was one of the last of an original group of 12 cities to join the race for the next wave of expansion teams in the fast-growing MLS.