Recap: Super sub Hany Mukhtar gives Nashville SC debut Leagues Cup win

NASHVILLE, TN – Music City’s MVP turned super sub on Sunday night. Hany Mukhtar provided a goal and an assist off the bench, sparking Nashville SC to a 2-1 win over Colorado Rapids in their first-ever Leagues Cup match.

The XI

Gary Smith fielded a mostly first-choice lineup. Jack Maher missed a third consecutive game with an undisclosed lower body injury, while Walker Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar were left on the bench.

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On the pitch

Both sides created chances through the first half, and both were wasteful. Jacob Shaffelburg picked out Teal Bunbury unmarked in front of goal, but the struggling striker headed his shot wide from close range. Colorado had several crosses flash in front of goal, with Nashville unable to clear and their attackers unable to find the finishing touch.

Mukhtar turned the game on its head instantly off the bench. After pressure from Dax McCarty forced a turnover, Mukhtar picked out a blazing Shaffelburg with his first touch of the match, and buried a layoff pass from McCarty to open the scoring, albeit with the help of a hefty deflection.

Six minutes later, Mukhtar turned provider, again linking up with Shaffelburg to ice the game for Nashville.

Colorado pulled a goal back late through Andrew Gutman. They nearly equalized when Cole Bassett’s free kick clattered off the post past a beaten Joe Willis, but Nashville held on to get a win and put them in a strong position to advance to the knockout rounds.

The big picture

After a somewhat poor start to the match, Mukhtar showed his quality off the bench. His goal was his first since his June 17 hat trick against St. Louis CITY, breaking a slump in which he had come close to finding the net on several occasions.

Even more notably, the goal was Mukhtar’s 100th goal contribution in Nashville. With a staggering 64 goals and 36 assists in 114 matches, the reigning MLS MVP has scored or assists a ridiculous 0.87 goals per match since joining Nashville in 2020.

After a torrid stretch of results from mid-June on, Nashville got a much-needed win, one that sets them up nicely to advance from their group into the Round of 32. They’ll play Liga MX side Toluca on Thursday at Geodis Park knowing that a point would guarantee their place in the knockout rounds of Leagues Cup.

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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