It took a Hany Mukhtar goal at the death, but Nashville SC advance to the US Open Cup quarterfinals after a 2-1 win against Louisville City FC on Wednesday night at Lynn Family Stadium.
Gary Smith rotate his squad fairly heavily, giving Hany Mukhtar and CJ Sapong a rest. Elliot Panicco made his Nashville debut in goal, the first match Joe Willis has not started for Nashville since joining MLS in February 2020.
On the pitch
With over 8,000 fans filling Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville dominated the opening exchanges. In the 37th minute, their dominance was rewarded. Forward Brian Ownby found himself unmarked in the box and perfectly placed his header into the far corner, leaving Panicco with no chance.
Just a minute and 24 seconds later, Nashville responded. Jack Maher played a ball over the top for Luke Haakenson, who played it across for Aké Loba to finish into an empty net. It was Nashville’s first shot of the game, while Louisville had taken 10.
As the match wore on, Nashville began to grow into the game. Gary Smith brought on Hany Mukhtar and CJ Sapong in the 77th minute, and the mainstays delivered. Sapong played a ball to Handwalla Bwana, who found Mukhtar on the edge of the box. The 2021 MLS MVP runner up made no mistake with the finish, driving a low shot across goal to the far corner to give Nashville the lead.
With Orlando City’s penalty shootout victory over Inter Miami CF, Nashville will travel to Exploria Stadium for their quarterfinal matchup on either June 21 or 22.