NASHVILLE – Even when Nashville doesn’t earn a victory in Nissan Stadium, you can’t say the 22,913 fans in attendance missed out on any entertainment. The Boys in Gold scored on a corner-kick header from Jalil Anibaba and a penalty kick from Hany Mukhtar, but visiting Atlanta United got set-piece headers from Anton Walkes and Jackson Conway to earn the 2-2 draw in Music City.
It will go down as a game with plenty to regret for Nashville. The Boys in Gold put the ball in the net two more times, both ruled out (correctly) for close offside calls, and NSC also managed to play the final 20 minutes of the match with a man advantage, but couldn’t beat backup keeper Alec Kann to find the game winner.
Atlanta got the proceedings going in the fifth minute. A foul on Nashville’s Alex Muyl provided a free kick from 30 yards out. A left-footed service to the back post saw Muyl victimized for a second time on the sequence, with Atlanta CB Anton Walkes rising over him to head the ball back across the face of goal and into the corner of Joe Willis’s net.
Nashville wouldn’t take long to respond. A solid offensive sequence was partially spoiled by a heavy touch from striker CJ Sapong. However, a heads-up play by Hany Mukhtar saw the German Designated Player hustle onto the loose ball, and fire a shot that drew a save from Kann. On the ensuing corner kick, Mukhtar found the head of centerback Jalil Anibaba to draw the score level.
Nashville continued to control the bulk of the play, but couldn’t find the frame of goal. Perhaps the best opportunity came late in the half, with physical hold-up play along the sideline from Sapong allowed him to thread a throughball to Mukhtar, but the lefty shot hit outside netting.
Nashville pulled back ahead early in the second half. Once again, it was Sapong forcing tough decisions out of an Atlanta defender. This time, it was centerback Alex De John who dragged him down on the edge of the box.
Mukhtar went for goal, and while he didn’t find it, that was only because of a flailing punch from striker Cubo Torres. The handball resulted in a Nashville penalty, and Mukhtar coolly converted to give NSC a 49th-minute lead.
Once again, Nashville seemed to have a handle on the game, but couldn’t extend the lead. A long throw saw the ball headed to the back post, where Hany Mukhtar – later deemed to be in an offside position – served back across for a dunk home from Sapong.
Almost immediately thereafter, Atlanta drew level with another set-piece header. This time, it was Jackson Conway converting from the corner kick.
Nashville would have another ball in the back of the net adjudged offside – this one far less controversially, with Hany Mukhtar all alone on the edge of the six-yard box before pounding it past Kann – with the confidence of a man who knew there was no pressure to score, because it wasn’t going to count either way.
A 75th-minute red card was issued to Mulraney for denying a goal-scoring opportunity to Leal on a long run that concluded near the top of the Atlanta penalty area. However, the free kick drew another save from Kann, and Nashville spent the remainder of the game buzzing, but unable to find the game-winning goal.
With the draw, Nashville sits fifth in the Eastern Conference table on 19 points. NSC has a nine-day break before welcoming Chicago Fire to Nissan Stadium.
- 5′ ATL GOAL – 4 Anton Walkes (headed, diving and/or falling), assisted by 23 Jake Mulraney (left-footed free kick)
- 14′ NSH GOAL – 3 Jalil Anibaba (headed), assisted by 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed corner kick)
- 23′ ATL Substitution – On 32 George Campbell, off 29 Mo Adams (injury)
- 28′ NSH Yellow card – 8 Randall Leal (foul)
- 39′ ATL Yellow card – 28 Tyler Wolff (foul)
- 44′ ATL Yellow card – 5 Santiago Sosa (foul)
- 45’+3 Half time
- 49′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed penalty, conceded by 31 Erick Cubo Torres on a handball)
- 52′ ATL Substitution – On 36 Jackson Conway, off 31 Erick Cubo Torres
- 59′ ATL GOAL – 36 Jackson Conway (headed), assisted by 10 Marcelino Moreno (right-footed corner kick)
- 67′ ATL Yellow card – 10 Marcelino Moreno (foul)
- 72′ NSH Substitution – On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 127 CJ Sapong
- 75′ ATL RED card – 23 Jake Mulraney (Denial Of Goal-Scoring Opportunity)
- 81′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 19 Alex Muyl
- On 7 Abu Danladi, off 5 Jack Maher
- 88′ ATL Substitution – On 33 Mikey Ambrose, off 28 Tyler Wolff
- 89′ NSH Yellow card – 6 Dax McCarty (foul)
- 90’+6 Full time