In the final match of the 2022 MLS regular season, Nashville SC took down Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC, booking a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference.
Head coach Gary Smith named his strongest possible squad, with one significant change. Teal Bunbury replaced C.J. Sapong, who has started nearly every match this season, but hasn’t scored since late May.
On the pitch
Typically, LAFC dominated the early proceedings at home. The hosts outshot Nashville by an overwhelming 30-12, forcing goalkeeper Joe Willis into 14 saves.
The standout came just before the break, denying an unusual penalty kick effort from striker Chicho Arrango.
The save proved to be decisive. Shortly after the half, Bunbury pulled Nashville ahead, burying a corner kick from close range to give Nashville the lead. A few more saves from Willis later, as well as a handful of half chances, and Nashville return home with a Decision Day win.
The big picture
On Decision Day, Nashville did all they could to earn a home playoff game. However, they didn’t get the help they needed elsewhere, with wins from LA Galaxy and FC Dallas keeping them in fifth place. Their 2-1 loss to Houston Dynamo in their final home game of the year proved to be the kicker, and forces them on the road in Round One.
They’ll take on fourth-placed LA Galaxy, with the match set for Saturday, October 15 at 2:00 pm CT.
Additionally, Sebastián Driussi and Daniel Gazdag couldn’t do enough to catch Hany Mukhtar’s 23 goals, meaning the German finishes the season as the Golden Boot winner.