For much of this season – and certainly the recent stretches – Nashville SC has played reasonably well, but had nothing to show for it in the end. If it wasn’t Hany Mukhtar, the Boys in Gold weren’t getting much productions from elsewhere. Nashville got that non-Mukhtar production in a 4-0 win against FC Dallas – though they wouldn’t have needed anyone else on a night where Hany scored a pair himself and assisted a third.
The scoring opened in the fifth minute. On a lovely designed pattern, Shaq Moore’s centering pass was dummied by Mukhtar, and CJ Sapong got on the end of it, first-timing a throughball to Mukhtar. Although the German was at a very tight angle, he’s made his name on scoring tough goals, and he roofed it into the far corner.
Mukhtar was instrumental when Nashville SC doubled the lead, as well. In the 26th minute, he possessed deep in the Dallas box. While a loose touch initially looked like it may have made Mukhtar’s finish much more difficult than he’d planned, debutant Jacob Shaffelburg rendered that irrelevant. The recent arrival on loan from Toronto FC run through the ball and hammered it hard enough with his favored left foot that Maarten Paes’s ability to get both hands on it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the back of his net.
Nashville SC turned defense into offense after stifling an FCD attack. A quick counter played Shaffelburg through at the midfield stripe, and in attempt to deny him an open run on the Dallas goal at full speed, Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal had no choice but to take him down from behind, earning a yellow card. A free kick at the top of the box? Hany time. Mukhtar struck sweetly with his right foot, just grazing the crossbar as it sailed past a motionless Paes.
On the 61st, Mukhtar almost notched his third – the only suspense left in the night to that point. A shot cleared off the line found its way to the DP at the top of the six-yard box, but his powerful strike hit the top of the crossbar, flying up and over the net. Paes saved bullets from Randall Leal, and then immediately thereafter, Mukhtar in the final 10 minutes of regulation time. It would ultimately be relevant only in that it prevented Leal from breaking out of a 14-game scoreless drought, and Mukhtar from completing the hat trick.
With the win, Nashville climbs back into the playoff positions, rising to sixth place in the Western Conference (though seventh-place LA Galaxy has played two fewer games). Breaking out of a slump at home, in particular, is important with four of the final seven games of the year at GEODIS Park. It’s a road trip first, though. Nashville will try to take its show to the Northwest, crossing into Canada for a Saturday-evening tilt against Vancouver Whitecaps. NSC drew the ‘Caps in Music City at the end of July.
- 5′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed, first-time, roofed from a tight angle), assisted by 17 CJ Sapong (first-touch through pass) and 18 Shaq Moore (square pass)
- 26′ NSH GOAL – 14 Jacob Shaffelburg (left-footed, through keeper’s hands), assisted by 10 Hany Mukhtar (layoff inside the penalty area after dribble)
- 31′ DAL Yellow card – 19 Paxton Pomykal (professional foul)
- 33′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed free kick to right corner). Free kck earned by 14 Jacob Shaffelburg (fouled on breakaway)
- 45’+2 Half time
- 46′ DAL Substitutions –
- On 12 Sebastian Lletget, off 16 Tsiki Ntsabeleng
- On 14 Beni Redzic, off 6 Edwin Cerrillo
- 46′ NSH Substitution – On 19 Alex Muyl, off 14 Jacob Shaffelburg
- 50′ NSH Substitution – On 15 Eric Miller, off 18 Shaq Moore (leg injury)
- 61′ DAL Substitution – On 17 Nkosi Tafari, off 24 Matt Hedges
- 62′ DAL Yellow card – 12 Sebastian Lletget (foul)
- 67′ DAL Yellow card – 22 Ema Twumasi (professional foul)
- 72′ NSH GOAL – 4 Dave Romney (headed, from set-piece), assisted by 2 Dan Lovitz (in-swinging corner kick)
- 74′ DAL Substitutions –
- On 8 Jader Obrian, off 7 Paul Arriola
- On 31 Nanu, off 20 Alan Velasco
- 84′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- On 27 Brian Anunga, off 54 Sean Davis