2021 is over, and we’re looking back at our favorite Nashville SC moments of the past year.
Best player: Hany Mukhtar
Yeah, this one’s obvious. Mukhtar put together one of the best attacking seasons in MLS history, scoring and assisting a league-leading combined 28 goals. The German playmaker found success in a more advanced role in Nashville’s 3-4-1-2 formation, partnering C.J. Sapong as a second striker.
Mukhtar’s form carried over into the playoffs, scoring three goals in Nashville’s two postseason matches. His campaign earned him a spot in the MLS Best XI and a runner up spot in MVP voting.
Best win: FC Cincinnati 3 – 6 Nashville SC
Nashville won emphatically against their oldest and most organic rivals. The Six Strings went down early in their first trip to Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium, but proceeded to come back and trounce the eventual Wooden Spoon winners.
Randall Leal and CJ Sapong each scored a brace, with Walker Zimmerman scoring from a set piece and Aké Loba killing the game off late. It was a statement win from Nashville over their rivals, and a victory that neither side will soon forget.
Best assist: Randall Leal and Aníbal Godoy vs FC Cincinnati
Nashville’s first goal of the 2021 season was set up with their best assist of the season. Aníbal Godoy won the ball in midfield and drove to the edge of the penalty area before springing Randall Leal free. The Costa Rican international played an inch-perfect ball across goal for Jhonder Cádiz, who found the back of the net with a simple finish.
Best celebration: Randall Leal
Leal scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Austin on May 24, the first goal in front of a non-restricted crowd since Nashville’s MLS opener in February 2020. The celebration didn’t disappoint.
Best save: Joe Willis vs Orlando City
Tesho Akindele looked set to score from a close range header, but Joe Willis was somehow able to stretch his right hand out and claw it away from the top corner.
Best goalkeeper assist: Joe Willis vs Atlanta United
Willis found Randall Leal with a 60-plus yard punt in second half stoppage time to ice a crucial win on the road, picking up three points in Atlanta.
Best long throw assist: Dave Romney vs Toronto FC
The Dave Romney long throw had a cult following long before it assisted Robert Castellanos’s first MLS goal. After showing up on the stats sheet, though, the long throw became even more popular.
It’s hard to choose just one, and moderation is overrated anyway. Here are our top three.
Number 3: Brian Anunga vs Chicago Fire
Brian Anunga’s first MLS goal came in style. The midfielder side-footed a shot into the side netting to cap off a 5-0 win against the Fire, a quality finish for his first goal in gold.
Number 2: Hany Mukhtar vs Orlando City
Mukhtar and Sapong teamed up to shred Orlando’s defense in their Round One playoff meeting. Mukhtar single-handedly beat three defenders before a trademark step-over and a composed finish to the bottom corner.
Number 1: Randall Leal vs FC Cincinnati
Leal caught all of his volley in first-half stoppage time, smacking a low drive into the bottom corner to swing momentum Nashville’s way heading into the break.
What were your favorite moments of 2021? What award categories did we miss? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who followed our coverage of Nashville SC and MLS this year. We can’t wait for 2022!