ST. PAUL, Minn. – Hany called game.
After pulling his team’s feet from the first in the first-touch challenge to deliver a come-from-behind win in the second round of a five-event series, Nashville SC’s star was needed once more at the end. With the Major League All-Stars and Liga MX All-Stars tied with two wins apiece, it came down to the crossbar challenge. The teams traded attempts from near the midfield stripe – with a number of tantalizingly close shots to hitting the crossbar. Then, Mukhtar made the sort of magic that Nashville SC fans are used to seeing.
Mukhtar’s bar-down hit won the competition for the American league, perhaps a preview of Wednesday’s perhaps-more-important All-Star Game, though it’s debatable how meaningful that event is, as well.
Nonetheless, after being snubbed for the All-Star Game a year ago, Mukhtar showed – as he did by finishing MVP runner-up a year ago – that he always belonged. His smoother performance in the touch challenge kept the competition within reach earlier in the evening, too.
The MLS All-Stars were victorious in the shooting challenge and – thanks to Mukhtar – the touch challenge, before falling in two straight competitions with the volley and passing challenges going the way of Liga MX. The crossbar challenge even made it to sudden-death, and Mukhtar’s shot was crucial.
He will be joined by Nashville SC teammate Walker Zimmerman in tomorrow evening’s All-Star Game, which airs at 7:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN2.