Nashville SC travels to one of the toughest road venues in the USL when they take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. Since 2017, the Rowdies are an impressive 14-1-6 at home in the USL regular season.
Ralph’s Mob doesn’t cheer for opposing players, but expect Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickens to get a warm welcome when he returns to Al Lang Stadium on Saturday to take on his former club.
Pickens, nicknamed the “The Beard” by Rowdies supporters, made 107 appearances in goal from 2014 to 2017 before joining Nashville SC this season. He is one of five players to make more than 100 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in its modern era.
Ralph’s Mob honored Pickens’ 100 appearance milestone on Aug. 5, 2017 with a special tifo adorned with his face and the message “Fear The Beard” and the number 100.
It hasn’t taken long for Nashville’s supporters’ groups to fall in love with Pickens. After key saves, they sing “There’s only one Matt Pickens! Only one Matt Pickens! He saves to the left, he saves to the right, Matt P is [really] dynamite!” [to the tune of Winter Wonderland] after each important shot block at First Tennessee Park. Wherever Pickens has played he’s been a fan favorite.
After 11 USL games, Nashville SC sits in sixth place and only four points behind Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati with a game in hand. Let’s look at some key stats from the season so far: