A week after Louisville City FC dominated an MLS side, Nashville SC certainly didn’t want to take their visitors from the second division lightly. It’d be fair to said they avoided falling into that trap with a 4-0 win in a preseason friendly against the Boys in Purple.
The game played in three 30-minute segments to allow both teams to rotate their lineups, and by the end of the first outing, Nashville had a 3-0 lead and the win in the bag. While the far greater priority was to get some work against an external opponent, it certainly will feel much better when the players head home this afternoon to do so having dominated.
Hany Mukhtar assisted striker CJ Sapong to open the scoring within the first seven minutes of the game, then added a pair of tallies himself – one on a penalty kick, the other on a counter-attack assisted by central midfielder Aníbal Godoy – to allow the hosts to be even more relaxed than they’d have otherwise been in the (traditionally less-spirited) remaining segments. An unsigned trialist added a fourth near the end of period two, and the teams both emptied the benches in the final segment with little in the way of offense for either side to bring proceedings to a close.
An explosion from Mukhtar was a welcome sight after the Designated Player had his share of struggles (many of them injury-related) in his first Major League Soccer season a year ago. If he lives up to the potential that saw Nashville make him its first DP, the Boys in Gold may very well be ready to take another step.
On the downside, three Nashville SC players didn’t see any action: strikers Jhonder Cádiz and Daniel Ríos, and recent defensive signing Nick Hinds. Gary Smith will address their status in his post-game media availability, though it’s worth noting that Cádiz and Ríos fought fitness and injury issues for the Boys in Gold a season ago, so their statuses may be worth monitoring.
Nashville next takes the pitch Wednesday. The second phase of preseason will see the Boys in Gold head to Bradenton, Fla. and the IMG Academy campus. They’ll square off against New York Red Bulls at 2 p.m. CDT in the midweek at IMG.