For just a couple minutes, it looked like Nashville SC fans would walk out of Nissan Stadium very disappointed. A Columbus Crew counterattack saw the visitors take a 75th-minute lead when Lucas Zelarayán slotted a layoff ball past Joe Willis. There was some relief when it took just two minutes for Nashville SC to respond, with MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar bouncing a pass from Daniel Ríos into the far corner of the net to knot the score at one.
Neither team would threaten again – though Nashville had an opportunity from a corner-kick situation, and the teams would draw 1-1.
The opening stages of the game favored the Boys in Gold. Nashville had the majority of the possession early, and a dangerous chance from a corner kick in the 13th: Hany Mukhtar’s service found the head of Walker Zimmerman, and his thumping chance drew a leaping save from Columbus keeper Eloy Room, who managed to tip the ball over the crossbar. In the 19th, a throughball down the sideline found Hany Mukhtar in a cutback zone neat the corner of the six-yard box. His layoff for Aníbal Godoy saw the Panamanian midfielder strike first time, and a deflection from Columbus defender Josh Williams did just enough to redirect it out of the goal (off the post for a corner kick).
Columbus tilted the field back into a neutral, and then favorable posture. In the 35th minute, a long-range chance from Zelarayán drew a save from Willis, and the defense had to put the ball out for a corner. The Crew wouldn’t threaten again, though, and instead saw an unfortunate situation. Striker Gyasi Zardes tweaked his left knee attempting a shot on the breakaway that was blocked by Nashville centerback Walker Zimmerman. While he managed to see out the final few minutes of the first half, the US International was withdrawn at halftime.
The second half’s first good chance came in a corner-kick scramble in front of the Columbus net. Nashvillle midfielder Aníbal Godoy went down in a heap, but perhaps a little too easily in the eyes of center official Alex Chilowicz.
The teams’ back-to-back goals came in the 75th and 77th minutes. When it looked like Zelarayán had found a winner, Mukhtar’s response came almost immediately. It also featured the first entry onto the scoresheet for mid-Summer signing Aké Loba, who earned a second assist on the play.
With the draw, Nashville remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, but will regret a chance to generate some space ahead of the trailing teams on a night when most out-of-town results fell in NSC’s favor. One of the teams that lost, third-place Philadelphia Union, is up next on the docket. The Boys in Gold travel to Chester, Pa. Saturday for a match that could either seal second position for Nashville SC, or give the Union the upper hand in a sprint to the finish.
- 45’+3 Half time
- HT CLB Substitution – On 27 Miguel Berry, off 11 Gyasi Zardes (injury)
- 68′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 14 Daniel Ríos, off 17 CJ Sapong
- On 72 Aké Loba, off 8 Randall Leal
- 71′ CLB Yellow card – 6 Darlington Nagbe (professional foul)
- 73′ CLB Substitution – On 17 Marlon Hairston, off 18 Liam Fraser
- 75′ CLB GOAL – 10 Lucas Zelarayán (right foot, far post), assisted by 7 Pedro Santos (layoff on counter-attack)
- 77′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot volley, bounced far post), assisted by 14 Daniel Ríos (pullback pass from edge of six-yard box)
- 84′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 23 Taylor Washington
- On 27 Brian Anunga, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- 89′ CLB Substitution – On 19 Milton Valenzuela, off 22 Derrick Etienne
- 90′ NSH Yellow card – 10 Hany Mukhtar (foul)
- 90’+4 NSH Yellow card – 26 Luke Haakenson (foul)
- 90’+5 CLB Substitution – On 5 Vito Wormgoor, off 6 Darlington Nagbe
- 90’+6 Full time