The honors are arriving for Nashville Designated Player Hany Mukhtar after his big game in Houston last night. Mukhtar scored two goals and added a hockey assist in between them to spearhead Nashville SC’s 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo. After two straight games out of the lineup while he rests minor bumps and bruises, he was subbed at halftime, but there’s no denying that the opening frame was one of his team’s most dominant 46-minute segments of the year.
That has earned him distinction as Major League Soccer’s Player of Week 18.
The three-goal performance was Nashville’s best on the road, and second-best in the club’s MLS history. Mukhtar’s brace was the first multi-goal performance by an individual in club history, as well. He completed 11/15 passes, drew three fouls (including the one that led to his second goal), and took two additional shots, one of them on-target.
With his honor as MLS Player of the Week, he also earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week, along with runners-up Lucas Cavallini and Nick Lima (of Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes, respectively). Mukhtar edged out that duo with 29.6% of the media vote from North American Soccer Reporters* while they each had 27.2%. The fan vote won it for Mukhtar, with a 35.2% share that was nearly 15 points higher than Cavallini’s.
Mukhtar is the first MLS Player of the Week in franchise history. The club has a limited history in Team of the Week representation, as well: Dax McCarty (Week 11, runner-up to POTW Jordan Morris), Gary Smith (Week 11 coach), and Joe Willis (Week 15) have all made the list. Boys in Gold have also made the “bench” – TOTW runners-up, effectively – four times: Randall Leal (Week 9), Aníbal Godoy (Week 13), Daniel Ríos (Week 14), and Walker Zimmerman (Week 17).
* In the interest of full disclosure, I am the Secretary of that organization