Things went well.
Hany Mukhtar didn’t quite have the fastest hat trick in MLS history from Goal One to Goal Three (that honor goes to LA Galaxy’s Harut Karapetyan in 1998 who got the job done in five minutes), but over the span of six minutes, he completed the earliest hat trick in league history, wrapping up his scoring before the clock turned to 16 minutes played.
The German even came close to a fourth, but was (correctly) ruled offside on a second-half addition before resting his shooting boots in the 65th minute with a well-deserved trip to the bench. It was that kind of night as Nashville SC blasted Chicago Fire 5-1.
A dysfunctional Fire side may very well be the excuse that shows Mukhtar’s performance wasn’t that impressive – nor, perhaps, were the additional goals by CJ Sapong and Brian Anunga – but a five-goal outing is something that Nissan Stadium hadn’t seen the Boys in Gold do. And weak opponent or not, an MLS record is an MLS record (inept though the Fire may be, a lot of teams have had the opportunity to play against various iterations of FC Cincinnati, and nobody had done it).
In the absence of head coach Raphael Wicky, who had to return to his native Sweden for a family emergency, the Fire didn’t change the tactics: it was a similar 3-5-2 to what had sparked a three-game unbeaten run at Soldier Field. But substitute headman Frank Klopas sat veteran Jonathan Bornstein – who had captained each of the prior three games – and that decision seemed to backfire in the form of a disorganized Chicago defense, and ultimately a short-handed side after a red card to CB Johann Kappelhof, who denied a goal-scoring opportunity to Sapong, providing the free kick that represented Mukhtar’s third tally.
Even when the Fire pulled one back shortly after halftime – it was Nashville’s turn to be disorganized as a sustained possession ultimately ended with a tap-in from striker Ignacio Aliseda all alone on the back post – Anunga managed to answer with his first Major League Soccer goal, thanks to the first professional assist from fellow second-year player Dylan Nealis.
It won’t always be this easy, and Nashville certainly hasn’t made it look so simple with any regularity. But for one night, 23,113 fans in Nissan Stadium not only got their money’s worth in entertainment, they got the thrill of a major victory, as well.
Nashville won’t have much time to bask in the glow: NSC travels to Columbus to take on the sixth-place Crew Wednesday evening. Tonight’s result puts the Boys in Gold fourth in the East for the time being (Philadelphia can still complete a win over DC this evening to move ahead). Taking the show on the road will be a whole new challenge.
- 10′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot), assisted by 17 CJ Sapong (square pass in the box after turnover)
- 13′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot, after stepovers), assisted by 2 Dan Lovitz (pull-back pass from the endline)
- 14′ CHI RED CARD – 4 Johan Kappelhof (denial of goal-scoring opportunity for CJ Sapong)
- 16′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed free kick)
- 27′ CHI Yellow card – 22 Mauricio Pinedo (foul)
- 39′ NSH GOAL – 17 CJ Sapong (right foot, from rebound off Randall Leal woodwork)
- 45’+3 Half time
- HT CHI Substitutions:
- On 9 Chinonso Offor, off 27 Robert Beric
- On 30 Gastón Gimenez, off 21 Fabian Herbers
- 47′ CHI GOAL – 7 Ignacio Aliseda (right foot, on open net), assisted by 11 Przemislaw FRankowski (square pass)
- 49′ CHI Yellow card – 6 Miguel Angel Navarro (post-whistle shenanigans)
- 62′ NSH GOAL – 27 Tah Brian Anunga (right foot, first time, outside the box), assisted by 18 Dylan Nealis (pull-back pass from edge of the box after cross)
- 65′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 22 Matt LaGrassa, off 6 Dax McCarty
- On 19 Alex Muyl, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 66′ CHI Substitutions:
- On 3 Jonathan Bornstein, off 6 Miguel Angel Navarro
- On 8 Luka Stojanovic, off 10 Álvaro Medrán
- 67′ NSH Substitution – On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 74′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 7 Abu Danladi, off 8 Randall Leal
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 27 Tah Brian Anunga
- 82′ CHI Substitution – On 14 Jhon Espinoza, off 7 Ignacio Aliseda
- 90’+3 Full time