Recap: Nashville cruise past Moca, Surridge and Mukhtar injured

Nashville SC’s Concacaf Champions Cup debut was a successful one. The Boys in Gold rolled bast Moca FC in the first leg of their Round One matchup, winning 3-0 with goals from Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge and debutant Tyler Boyd. It wasn’t all positive for Nashville, though, as Mukhtar and Surridge were both forced out of the match with injuries.

The XI

As promised, Gary Smith went all out with his team selection. Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge started the match up top, while offseason signings Tyler Boyd and Dru Yearwood made their competitive debuts.

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Walker Zimmerman and Dan Lovitz were the only forced absences, with both defenders still recovering from injury.

On the pitch

Nashville were always expected to dominate the match, but Concacaf Champions Cup matches are never a sure thing. The Coyotes left nothing to chance, dictating the flow of the game from the opening whistle and finishing their chances ruthelessly.

Hany Mukhtar opened the scoring after 12 minutes, playing an incisive pass to Surridge and collecting the return ball before finishing cooly.

13 minutes later, Surridge doubled the lead, with Mukhtar again at the wheel. The German playmaker split Moca’s defense with a slick through ball, and Surridge’s first touch set him up for a thumping finish.

Things took a turn for Nashville shortly thereafter. Mukhtar picked up a groin issue, going down off the ball and leaving the match in the 35th minute. Just after halftime, Surridge was involved in a nasty collision with Boyd. The Englishman was left in visible discomfort, receiving treatment on his left shoulder for several minutes before leaving the match in the 53rd minute.

Substitute Jacob Shaffelburg saw a rocket of a goal disallowed for offside before Tyler Boyd capped off his debut with a silky goal. The U.S. international breezed past the Moca defense, playing a quick one-two with Teal Bunbury before calmly slotting home at the near post.

The big picture

A 3-0 win puts Nashville in a fantastic position heading to the home leg on Wednesday night. With three away goals in the bag, there’s a world in which Gary Smith can rest several starters between difficult MLS matches against New York Red Bulls (home, February 25) and Colorado Rapids (away, March 2). A win, draw, or loss by less than three goals would guarantee a matchup with Inter Miami and their star-studded squad in the Round of 16.

Injuries, obviously, put a damper on what would have otherwise been a perfect Concacaf debut. After the match Smith confirmed that Mukhtar’s withdrawal was mostly precautionary, saying Mukhtar could have played through it but wasn’t risked given the 2-0 lead.

Surridge’s injury is much more concerning. The DP striker was in visible discomfort and went straight to the locker room for more evaluation. Nashville will know more about his status after they return home, but it’s a very short turnaround until Sunday’s MLS opener against New York Red Bulls.

Should Surridge miss time, Teal Bunbury is the only senior striker on Nashville’s roster, scoring just three goals in 1,652 minutes last season. Other options up top for Nashville include 17-year-old homegrown striker Adem Sipić, who is expected to see the vast majority of his minutes in Huntsville. Woobens Pacius and Forster Ajago are also signed to Nashville SC contracts, but lack of international roster slots leaves no place for them on the active roster.

Stats

Goals: MOC 0 – 3 NSH
Shots: MOC 5 – 11 NSH
Shots on target: MOC 1 – 7 NSH
Possession: MOC 42% – 58% NSH
Passes: MOC 286 – 441 NSH
Yellow cards: MOC 0 – 1 NSH

Post-match presser

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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