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Nashville SC's MLS debut did not end in victory, but it collectively believes there are plenty of good times ahead for the fledging club.
The Portland Timbers will also look to rebound from a frustrating defeat, and avoid opening with two straight home losses for the first time on Sunday, when they face Nashville at Providence Park.
In front of more than 59,000 for the club's first-ever MLS match, Nashville put on a good show in front of a jubilant and vocal supporter base last Saturday. However, all the home side could muster was Walker Zimmerman's equalizing goal in the 28th minute of a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United FC.
Though the match ended without any points for Nashville, the team felt there were enough positives to take from the experience to feel it can be a consistently competitive group during this rookie campaign. Despite what pundits and so-called social experts have predicted for one of the two new sides in MLS this season.
"I think we should gain a lot of confidence from (the opener)," Zimmerman, the former Los Angeles FC defender, told Nashville's official website.
"We're a team that everyone is writing off, not expecting to finish high in the Western Conference. We don't listen to that in this locker room. I hope everyone can see from (last weekend) that we're a team that's going to compete. A team that's going to be strong and aggressive, and make it difficult to play against."
While that's the public attitude one would expect from a new club, it will seriously be put to the test this weekend in Nashville's first official MLS road contest. And, that comes at the traditionally challenging environment of Providence Park.
However, Portland was unable to use its normally passionate supporters to its advantage in last weekend's 3-1 loss to Minnesota United FC. Down 1-0 early in the second half, the Timbers leveled the match on Diego Valeri's successful penalty kick in the 56th minute. But, it was 20 minutes later when things fell apart for home side as Minnesota scored twice in a two-minute stretch to stun Portland and its fans.
"I feel like this team has to learn the hard way, always, ever again to understand that we have to all stay together and just apply the plan, all together," agitated defender Larrys Mabiala told the Timbers' official website.
"Stay together for the full 90 minutes … It's always good this happens at this time, so you can make things right and turn things over."
Portland opened last season 0-5-1, but that came while playing its first 12 matches on the road while Providence Park was renovated. The Timbers have never lost their first two home games since entering MLS in 2011.
With his goal last weekend, Valeri is the first Portland player to score in eight different seasons.
Updated March 6, 2020