I’m Only Happy When It Rains

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The Knoxville Force faced off against in state rival Nashville FC not only for three points in the NPSL Southeast Division but also as part of the Volunteer Shield.  After an opening day loss at New Orleans Jesters, the Force rebounded with a win against the Hammers (sorry Forrest and Collin). Nashville were 1-2 in the conference with a win against New Orleans and losses to Chattanooga FC and Memphis City FC. Those two losses also impacted the Volunteer Shield, which is a supporter group created trophy recognizing the club with the most points in head to head games between the Tennessee NPSL teams. Think Cascadia Cup for the Volunteer State.

We pulled into the hotel under threatening skies. I immediately checked the weather and saw that there was a 94% chance of rain at kickoff. Being a fragile flower, I asked Scruffy City Syndicate if umbrellas were allowed in the complex, which they were, so game on.

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I wouldn’t say I love college football, but I’m a fan so had to see Neyland Stadium. We drove by in a torrential downpour, snapped a couple of pics and headed to the tailgate. Turnout was low due to the weather but the Scruffy City Syndicate had fired up the grill and had hot dogs and beers ready for anyone ready to brave the downpour.

Ben Winder greeted me and gave me a brief recap of the group. Founded in 2014, SCS has a close relationship with the Front Office and has secured an area in the stands to support the team. Plus they got a deal on season tickets that allows them to offer a great membership package. As for the club, the Knoxville Force combined efforts with the Emerald Youth Foundation ahead of the 2015 season. This season the team has a new coach, Bradley Camp, and a revamped roster.

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After meeting everyone, SCS showed me the pièce de résistance—Vanimal. Complete with a sound system and grill, the beast is a beauty to behold. Not only can it carry all the supplies but it also seats several loyal fans. Terminus Legion needs one of these ahead of 2017.

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SCS packed up and headed in. Their tailgate spot is right across from the complex—super convenient. Sansom Sports Complex is a relatively new facility and features a clubhouse, a covered small sided practice area (which came in handy this night) and two turf fields. A grass field is under development as well. The complex is easy to get to and visible to the community around them.

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The match started off with a bang as Knoxville Force scored just two minutes in. NFC recovered and took control of the match, with Elliot Goodwin (#23) constantly running at the Force backline. He scored the equalizer (offisde?) and Nashville FC punished poor defending to go into halftime up 2-1.

Knoxville came out and were on the front foot in the second half. Yinka Lawal (#9) was a force up top but wing play was a real strength. Midway through the second half the Force knotted things up and with the game creeping towards a draw, this happened. Cameron Schneider received a cross at the top of the box and chested it to himself for the acrobatic finish. One of the greatest goals I’ve ever seen live.

The Force subbed and reorganized after a late red card to close out the match. Huge win for Knoxville as they go to 2-1 in the league and the Volunteer Shield standings. Next up is Chattanooga FC at Finley Stadium on Tuesday.

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(Pic courtsey of Erica Waggoner)

Scruffy City Syndicate put a great show. Small in numbers but huge in terms of attitude. Plus the next generation is getting involved, complete with costumes and a pyramid. Big props to El Beasto!! It was great to stand with them and many thanks to Ben and the gang for letting me hang out with them.

If you were at the match, let me know your thoughts. As always, check out the rest of my groundhops— past and present—on the MatchDay Memory page and hit me up on twitter @austinlong1974.

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Resources

Emerald Youth Sports

Knoxville Force website

Knoxville Force Wikipedia entry

Match Recap via Emerald Youth Sports

Volunteer Shield

Scruffy City Syndicate

Nashville FC website

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