Nashville’s entry into the MLS may still take place in 2019 and has not been determined, according to an update obtained by Music City Soccer from the North American World Cup’s United Bid Committee.
The clarification was necessary after an earlier statement to the Nashville Business Journal said Nashville would not begin its MLS journey in 2019.
“The United Bid Committee’s section on Nashville in the World Cup incorrectly states the first season for the new Nashville MLS expansion club,” that statement said. “The MLS has confirmed the new Nashville expansion team will not begin playing in the league in 2019 and a start date has not been finalized.”
The committee released the statement in order to correct the record after the North American bid, shared publicly today, stated that Nashville would start MLS play next season.
Eleanor Kennedy with NBJ obtained the clarifying statement from the bid committee. You can read her full story here.
North America’s 2026 FIFA World Cub bid book, published on FIFA’s website, said Nashville would join the MLS in 2019. The bid book is a joint submission by the Canadian Soccer Association, the Mexican Football Association and the United States Soccer Federation to host the 2026 World Cup in cities throughout North America. Nashville is one of the 23 cities vying to be a World Cup site with Nissan Stadium hosting games.
The bid book states on page 97, “The city was recently awarded the 24th expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS), Nashville SC, which will start playing in the league in 2019. Prior to the arrival of Nashville’s MLS team, the city had various football teams; the most notable were the Nashville Metros who played from 1989 until 2012, and Nashville FC, who played in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) from 2013 to 2016.”
Nashville SC declined to comment on the story when we reached out to the team.
When Nashville was awarded the 24th MLS expansion team in December, the MLS said the team could join the league in 2019 or 2020 depending on the next expansion announcements. The other cities competing for an MLS expansion franchise include Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit.
Nothing about this situation surprises us. It reflects the disorganized, improvisational nature of the MLS expansion process to this point.
We have been advocates of a 2020 entry into the league, as we believe it will give the team more time to ramp up the awareness, talent and infrastructure it needs to succeed in the top tier. Ramping up to MLS play in a few short months would be a Herculean endeavor for a city that just welcomed the return of professional soccer. Other franchises have larger fan bases, more robust operations and rosters that are better prepared for top-flight action.