USL Will be Exciting with Las Vegas & Nashville
This past weekend two new soccer cities in the United Soccer Leagues, Las Vegas and Nashville, both played exhibition games against Major League Soccer opponents. The two games were played at Triple-A ballparks in front of capacity crowds, but despite the losses for the home side, spirits were not dampened by the many who revel in delight with their new sports teams.
Las Vegas Lights FC attracted 10,387 fans to Cashman Field in their friendly against the Montreal Impact. The Lights lost 2-0 to the MLS side but did so through thunderous applause and thousands of cheers of the many who welcomed pro soccer to Sin City.
The supporters group situated on the 1st baseline of the stadium waved yellow and blue flags that matched the festive colors of the club’s innovative home kits that are painted with equally festive colors of cyan, magenta, and neon yellow. The design and look of the jersey have raised eyebrows from all circles of the sports fashion world who think its a relic of two decades ago or the perfect kit for this young soccer club from Vegas.
Unfortunately, the biggest innovation of the jersey, the smiley face printed inside so players can pull it over their heads when celebrating goals scored was not seen tonight.
Much of that same excitement commenced well before the opening kickoff when fans packed the parking lot in the “Get Lit Garden”. There was live music, a beer garden, inflatable rides for the little ones, and tailgate games that attracted record numbers to the old baseball field. The team even had two llamas tied to palm trees near the entrance of the stadium for selfies and other photo opportunities.
“Palm trees wrapped in blue, yellow and pink-tinted lights illuminated the celebration, and the sizzle of carne asada on the griddle filled the silence between songs performed by the Mariachi bands,” wrote Jesse Granger of the Las Vegas Sun in today’s edition.
Almost 1,800 miles to the east another USL side was finishing up its inaugural game at First Tennessee Park in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville SC fell 3-1 to its MLS southern rivals from Atlanta, but not before 9,059 fans created a soccer atmosphere at the three-year-old ballpark.
The cloudy skies were painted gunpowder gray and turned the grass pitch into a sloppy mess full of puddles in certain spots. Giant splashes of water formed after every players’ kick, slide or run throughout the evening. The dreary weather did not hinder the active spirit of many who cheered and harmonized from the grandstand.
The Nashville club has already secured 5,000 season ticket holders for its upcoming season and announced that its league home opener on March 24 will be moved to the 69,143-seat Nissan Stadium from First Tennessee Park due to high public demand for tickets.
Nashville SC CEO Court Jeske said in a release that the move to a larger venue will ensure that every fan that wants to take in history will have the opportunity to do so.
Whether it’s on the diamond of a minor league ballpark or in an NFL sized venue, both Las Vegas and Nashville will produce soccer frenzied atmosphere in their respective venues. The upcoming USL season will be a little bit more exciting with both party cities in the league.
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