Former St Mary’s and St George’s defender Liam Doyle made his debut for new side Nashville Soccer Club on Saturday.
Doyle wasn’t the only one making his bow at the weekend, as it was the Tennessee-based club’s first ever game ahead of their debut season in the USL.
The pre-season friendly against MLS side Atlanta United took place at First Tennessee Park in front of a 9,000 capacity crowd.
The Manx centre-back captained Gary Smith’s side in the second-half of the match that ended 3-1 in the top-flight side’s favour.
Doyle, who played for USL Cup finalists Swope Park Rangers last year, said after the match: ’It was a brilliant day and obviously great to play in our first game against a very good Atalanta side who have some top players.
’They are very good – the best attacking team in the MLS with some high-quality players from the USA and South America.
’It sets us up well for the season because we would be lucky to see a team of that calibre in USL play, so it was a great test for us.’
Doyle, 25, who came on as a half-time replacement added: ’Pre-season involves a lot of rotation figuring out partnerships and gaining fitness for the season.
’Just before the game Gary [Smith] handed the arm band to me.
’It was an honour to wear it on such a big day for the club.’
Former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan now turns out for Atlanta and was impressed with Nashville’s play: ’I think they’ve only been together for 12 days, so fair play to them.
’They were very organised.
’They had quality players, and I think when MLS does come eventually it is going to be a hit here.
’I think this team in USL will be a very good team. I know Gary Smith is an organised manager and he’ll be able to get the most out of his players.’
Talking more generally about his switch to second-tier side that has secured a MLS franchise for 2020, Doyle said: ’I’ve settled in well and I’m enjoying the city of Nashville.
’I’m looking forward to heading down to Florida for the second stage of pre-season with another set of tough games.’
These will include friendlies against Atlanta’s fellow MLS sides Chicago Fire and Orlando City ahead of the start of the USL campaign next month.
Nashville’s league season begins away at Louisville City on March 17.