Recap: Nashville get first road win of 2023 in Orlando

It was a night of firsts for Nashville SC, who came out victorious over Orlando City in a 2-0 win. In the Coyotes’ first road win of 2023, Fafà Picault scored his first goal in a Nashville shirt, while Hany Mukhtar found the net for the first time this season.

The XI

Luke Haakenson was a surprise inclusion in the lineup, getting his first start since July 3, 2022.

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The winger was a last-minute replacement for Alex Muyl, who had been set to start, but fell ill with the same stomach bug that has plagued Nashville’s roster for the last several weeks. Aníbal Godoy also returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in the season opener.

On the pitch

Orlando controlled possession in the early stages, and forced Joe Willis into a strong save within the first 15 minutes. Nashville bended but didn’t break, as has been their calling card throughout MLS.

Quick thinking from Hany Mukhtar opened the scoring. The 2022 MLS MVP quickly took a free kick, spotting the run of Fafà Picault and catching the Orlando defense sleeping. The newly-signed veteran got in behind the defense, and was able to get a touch on the pass at the last second to chip it over goalkeeper Pedro Gallese for his first goal in gold.

In the second half, it was Mukhtar once again. Substitute Dax McCarty worked the ball through midfield to find Shaq Moore on the wing, and the fullback played a quick pass to Mukhtar, who calmly slotted the ball under Gallese for his first goal of 2023.
Nashville hung on after the goal, forced to defend for the final 15 minutes. Six saves from Joe Willis was enough to earn their fourth clean sheet of the season, as well as their first win away from Geodis Park.

The big picture

After back to back losses, getting a win in a difficult Exploria Stadium was a huge boost for Nashville. They’ve built something of a rivalry with Orlando over the last four seasons, and that was evidenced by some hard tackles on the pitch.

Picault and Mukhtar getting off their marks could prove to be even more important, though. Both have been industrious and involved in the early goings, but neither have been able to find the final touch to hit the back of the net. Getting the pair in form is crucial for the ‘Yotes.

They’ll be back in action next Saturday, welcoming Toronto FC to Geodis Park on April 8.

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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