Inter Nashville SC Match, Youth Soccer Rabbit Hole and July 7 Attendance Record?

First, all these thoughts, opinions, bad takes and spelling errors are mine and mine alone. My stream of consciousness style is jumpy and probably reads just as well from ending to beginning. Sorry, but leave me comment if you follow.

I very much enjoyed the U.S. Open Cup last night. Especially the sunset which multiple Nashville soccer social media accounts noticed. Attendance wasn’t great, but a late walkup made it respectable. For an Open Cup match I find it odd there was no official announced attendance. Inter Nashville were solid, but at the end of the day professional will beat amateur most of the time. Even when Inter players beat a Nashville SC defender they would recover so quickly that Inter wasn’t able to benefit from the skill that gave them the initial space too often. The crowd was cool especially after the lightning delay. The pocket of Inter fans (maybe 40) were right next to the supporter’s section. I just sat behind in one of the seats with a back (the older you get the more important that feature becomes) to watch and listen. I kind of wanted Inter to get a goal to see them go nuts. They are really behind their team. Hopefully, they have success again this season and a pre season friendly becomes a thing.

I don’t know how Richard Askey is finding and fielding players, but I happened to spend the first half sitting next to players that said they were with Inter 2. They were nice, interested in the match and speaking as much Spanish as English. I haven’t seem many teams like that at the numerous soccer tournaments in Middle Tennessee I’ve attended over the years. That said, a number of Inter players on the field were familiar as coaches at the biggest local youth clubs. Even more if you count the players that are doing some coaching when they have the time. Which reminds me of something I learned this week while falling down the youth soccer rabbit hole.

Did you know almost every youth club and supporter’s group I’ve come across are all setup as non profit 501c3. This is true of Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club (RKYSC). What’s cool is the Richmond Kickers (the USL team) are owned by RKYSC. Doubt that could happen here but it’s interesting. Richmond Kickers have been around forever and this was done long ago. Franchise fees in both MLS and USL have gone way up to where the original investment is more than a club could afford. But the setup provides a lot of benefits. Many Richmond Kickers players are also coaches with the youth club. It gives the USL more visibility in the community with tons of kids all wearing the same kits from little kickers to pro. It gives the players a chance to make money and maybe have a career in coaching or another capacity with the club. Seems smart to me though a PDL or NPSL team seems the more likely scenario for clubs in Middle Tennessee. It’s also the more realistic path for a youth player as very few if any you know are going to play professionally.

Amazing thinking something in youth soccer is smart given most the rest is messed up and confusing. How is a parent supposed to decide what to do with their kids? There are too many options. Which club? Is ECNL better than DA? What about ODP? They all cost money as do the crazy amount of summer camps. Some allow you play in high school while others do not. Not to mention why are the high schools and middle schools on different schedules? How much travel? How competitive are games? I was shocked to learn of the blowout scores in many DA girl’s games this year. Not to mention the most important choice. What is most appropriate for my child? Does he practice on his own all the time? Is he more interested in hanging with friends than actual training? There are places for all kids, but it’s not so easy to find. Geography! How far are you willing to drive for minimum tri-weekly training? What can you afford?

In Nashville I suspect youth soccer is going to change quite a bit in the next year or so. Nashville SC will have to figure out a plan for the youth system and academy. Bringing all the clubs together is ideally the best plan, but nearly impossible to implement. This will be a major investment. Minnesota United is spending over $30 million on training facilities in addition to their $250 million stadium. Middle Tennessee youth soccer clubs, parents, coaches and players wait in nervous anticipation.

Like March 23 versus Pittsburgh, looks like Nashville should have the highest attended soccer match in the United States on July 7, 2018? The club is looking to fill the lower bowl which would be approximately 27,000. I think it is doable especially with FC Cincinnati being the opponent. I suspect they’ll bring at least 1000 fans, maybe more. A look at the MLS schedule sees Atlanta, Seattle and Toronto all on the road. The only MLS side that could possibly draw more would be the LA Galaxy who average a bit north of 26,000. Their matchup against Columbus isn’t very sexy so the match in Nashville has an excellent chance of having the highest attendance for the weekend. Again!

The Gold Cup announcement today was cool, but I’m much more interested in the USMNT Mexico match in September. Focus on 2018 before 2019. Not official, but if you’ve been following what has been going on that match is happening. Priced correctly it would sellout Nissan in a soccer celebration, but with the USSF in charge I’m fearful that even upper bowl seats will be well north of $50. I suspect that will keep the attendance down though El Tri Nation could surprise me. It really is a shame USSF doesn’t get it. The World Cup will be over, Mexico will have B side at best and the USMNT will have an experimental roster for sure. So should the goal be filling the stadium in a new MLS market to help grow the game? No, it will be a formula telling them the price point they feel maximizes revenues. Just a shame.

Things I like – Ropapa and Moloto in attack. Pickens and Nashville SC solid D. The shade the overhang at First Tennessee provided for many sections the entire game. The sunset at the U.S. Open Cup match. All employees I’ve talked to at Nashville SC matches who have been great.

Things I don’t like – Silly rule you can’t place cup on top of dugout. I was told this is a baseball rule because players in the dugout can hear it and they don’t want sticky things spilled as sometimes mascots or dancers go there. OK, but this is a soccer game. I feel bad for ushers here as they had to tell people more than once about this rule and I’m sure they’ll have to do it again next home match. Perhaps they should just tape some paper signs down telling people not to place items there.

See you around the soccer fields. Say hello if you want nerdy soccer talk.

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