A quick response from Hany Mukhtar rescued a point for Nashville SC on Wednesday night. The Boys In Gold came back from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at Nissan Stadium as both sides continue to push for a playoff spot.
Head coach Gary Smith named virtually a first-choice starting lineup, save for the absence of Dan Lovitz, who missed a second-consecutive match with a foot injury.
Randall Leal, Aníbal Godoy and Alistair Johnston returned to the team after international duty, with a full complement of players on the bench.
Nashville opened the match on the front foot. They came close to scoring several times in the first half through Walker Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar, but couldn’t quite find the finish to earn an opening goal.
Columbus weathered sustained spells of pressure before growing into the match, and eventually found the opener through Lucas Zelarayán, who smacked a low shot past Joe Willis into the bottom corner after a lethal counter attack.
The lead was short lived. Just under two minutes later, Nashville responded through Hany Mukhtar, who did well to control a pass from Daniel Ríos before finishing authoritatively.
Mukhtar’s 14th goal of the season got Nashville back into the match, and despite several chances to close out the match, the sides shared the points with a 1-1 draw.
The dramatic comeback will smooth over the result, but Nashville really could have used all three points. Philadelphia, Orlando, DC United, New York City FC and Atlanta all dropped points on Wednesday night, and a win would have given Nashville a five point buffer in second place.
As things stand now, they have just a three point lead on Philadelphia ahead of their meeting on Saturday. Gary Smith’s side will have to travel to the reigning Supporters Shield winners without Hany Mukhtar and Luke Haakenson, who will both miss out due to yellow card accumulation.
Nashville’s draw is their 16th of the season, and with four games left, the single-season record of 18 draws is well within reach. A more encouraging record to break is the fewest losses in a season. With just three losses on the year, Nashville are poised to surpass the previous best of four losses in a year.