Recap: Nashville SC start off season with comfortable win

NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC got 2023 off to a strong start, beating New York City FC 2-0 at Geodis Park in the first match of the Major League Soccer season.

The XI

With Hany Mukhtar nursing a hip injury picked up in preseason, Randall Leal took his role behind the striker, while newly-signed Fafà Picault got his first start.

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On the pitch

Against an in-flux NYCFC, Nashville looked far the more confident side in the opening half, dictating possession and creating a handful of half-chances before Walker Zimmerman found the opener. Wearing the armband on the night, the U.S. international thumped the ball home after Fafà Picault headed a set piece back across the box.

With NYCFC pushing for an equalizer, Nashville became a bit more strained in the second half, but their backline held firm. Jack Maher, newly promoted to a starting role after Dave Romney’s departure, was impressive next to Zimmerman, and handled the challenge well to keep track of the Pigeons’ fluid frontline.

Unsurprisingly, the game changed when Mukhtar entered. Just five minutes after he came on, the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP made a trademark weaving run through New York’s defense, drawing a pair of defenders towards him before picking out a wide-open Jacob Shaffelburg for a simple finish.

The big picture

It was an ideal start to the season for Nashville. The crowd of 28,051 was engaged and invested in the match from the opening whistle, making a point to boo Maxime Chanot whenever he touched the ball.

Nashville have always been stout defensively, but they also quieted some of the preseason questions about their attack. Although the sides were level with nine shots each, Nashville created by far the better of the chances, and arguably should have scored more than the three they got.

They’ll get another difficult next weekend, traveling to take on New York Red Bulls in Harrison, Hew Jersey.

Gallery

Photos courtesy Nashville SC

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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