Hany Mukhtar photo courtesy Nashville SC
At long last, Hany Mukhtar had his coming-out party. The designated player – and last year’s runner-up for league MVP – notched a brace, scoring on a lovely run from the midfield stripe and banging home a set-piece chance to score his first two tallies of the year. Alas, San Jose was afforded a number of dangerous set-piece opportunities, and former US Youth International Jeremy Ebobisse made the most of a pair of them, and the teams left PayPal Park with a 2-2 draw.
Nashville will be regretting an inability to capitalize on a number of other first-half chances – including an empty-net run for Mukhtar that was tackled off his foot an instant before he could pull the trigger – in a game that NSC had the opportunity to establish some dominance, but ultimately let the Quakes back in the game.
Mukhtar made up for the early indecision on a fantastic run for his first goal of the game. The German took a pass from Aníbal Godoy at midfield, then tore through the San Jose defense on a brilliant solo run, ultimately opening the scoring by going to the bottom corner past keeper JT Marcinkowski. The 1-0 lead at the half would not be enough.
In the 51st minute, defender Dan Lovitz – in his first game back after a multi-week stint on the sidelines as he recovered from a minor ankle injury – was struck in the arm at the top of the box, giving San Jose a free kick from a dangerous position. Ebobisse made the most of it, curling a left-footed shot to the far post, and giving Joe Willis no chance to make the save.
Mukhtar would find his second on a set piece himself, standing alone at the back post after striker CJ Sapong headed on a long throw-in from Dave Romney in the 63rd. With his second goal of the game and season under his belt, Mukhtar served notice that he doesn’t intend to fall off from last year’s MVP pace.
Ebobisse wouldn’t let all the glory reside with Mukhtar, though. A corner kick in the 72nd saw a weak clearance that midfielder Jan Gregus just got a foot to in order to keep the ball alive in Nashville SC’s box. It bounced directly to Ebobisse – kept onside by Nashville’s back-post defender, Lovitz – and he slotted home to draw the score level again.
Nine minutes of stoppage time thanks to multiple players receiving treatment on the pitch (including Nashville SC keeper Joe Willis, who has yet to miss a second of competitive action in the club’s MLS history) was not enough for either team to break the deadlock. As stoppage time approached, Nashville’s substitution patterns indicated a willingness to hold on for the draw.
With the point, Nashville SC has 11 on the year – before playing a single game at home – and that’s enough for seventh place in the Western Conference as things stand now. NSC will be back in the Golden State in a week’s time, taking on second-place LA Galaxy in Carson, Calif. It is the final game of an eight-game season-opening roadtrip before the inaugural game at GEODIS Park May 1.
- 21′ SJ Yellow card – 44 Cade Cowell (foul)
- 38′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right footed, in box, after dribbles), assisted by 20 Aníbal Godoy (square pass at midfield)
- 45’+1 Half time
- 51′ NSH Yellow card – 2 Dan Lovitz (hand ball)
- 52′ SJ GOAL – 11 Jeremy Ebobisse (left footed free kick from top of box)
- 63′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed half-volley, set-piece situation), assisted by 17 CJ Sapong (head-on) and 4 Dave Romney (long throw-in)
- 68′ SJ Substitution – On 22 Tommy Thompson, off 15 Tanner Beason
- 72′ SJ GOAL – 11 Jeremy Ebobisse (right-foot half-volley), assisted by 17 Jan Gregus (deflected clearance from set-piece situation)
- 73′ NSH Substitution – On 23 Taylor Washington, off 2 Dan Lovitz
- 80′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 6 Dax McCarty, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- On 9 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 80′ SJ Substitution – On 25 Ousseni Bouda, off 10 Cristian Espinoza
- 88′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- On 27 Tah Brian Anunga, off 54 Sean Davis
- 90’+5 NSH Yellow card – 26 Luke Haakenson (foul)
- 90’+9 Full time