NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC left it late to steal a draw against Charlotte FC on Saturday night. Hany Mukhtar’s 98th minute penalty kick was the latest goal Nashville have ever scored in MLS, rescuing a draw after a frustrating and uninspired performance.
Other than Walker Zimmerman, who missed a third consecutive match with injury, head coach Gary Smith had a fully healthy side to choose from. Sam Surridge and Randall Leal, both listed as questionable ahead of the match, got the start, while Joe Willis returned in goal after a foot issue.
On the pitch
Nashville were uninspired for most of the night. Surridge touched the ball just six times in the first half. He and Mukhtar struggled to get on the same page, failing to connect on several passes. The attack generally looked off, with Mukhtar maybe trying to do too much to find the net and end his scoreless streak.
Charlotte looked to have won the game later. Substitute Scott Arfield pounced on a loose ball outside Nashville’s box and drove a low shot past Joe Willis, silencing the home crowd. Late in stoppage time, though, Lukas MacNaughton charged into the box and was dragged down by Nathan Byrne, earning a penalty kick.
Mukhtar made no mistake with the finish, finally getting on the scoresheet for the first time since his June 17 hat trick against St. Louis City SC.
The big picture
It was another flat performance from Nashville. Aside from their 0-0 draw against Inter Miami, where they set out almost exclusively to keep Lionel Messi off the scoresheet, they’ve been disappointing in their two outings since the Leagues Cup final loss. Until Mukhtar’s 98th minute goal, they’d been held scoreless. They’ve been disconnected, flat and wasteful in the attack. Granted, Charlotte are one of the toughest sides to beat in MLS, losing just twice in their last eight league games, but it was an undeniably poor result at home.
The international break gives Nashville two-and-a-half weeks before their next match on September 20. They’ll need to work through their issues on the training ground and hope for a more functional attack in their final seven matches of the regular season, or a top four finish and home field advantage in the playoffs will slip them by.