Nashville SC ended the toughest road trip of the season with four points, with Teal Bunbury’s third goal of the season earning a point in a 1-1 draw against San Jose Earthquakes.
Gary Smith made a couple changes to the side that beat Sporting KC 3-0 on Wednesday, most notably bringing in goalkeeper Elliot Panicco for Joe Willis.
Sam Surridge was only fit enough to make the bench, with Smith confirming after the match that he’s still struggling with the injury he picked up against Atlanta United.
On the pitch
It was an even match for most of the night, with both sides trading half chances. Cade Cowell had the best look of the opening 45 minutes, smashing the bar with a curling shot after an electric run from inside his own half.
Bunbury gave Nashville the lead five minutes into the second half. Hany Mukhtar played Shaq Moore into space with a wonderful chipped pass, and the fullback played a perfect first-time cross into Bunbury. The veteran striker finished well from a tight angle, turning the ball off the underside of the bar and in.
San Jose equalized 15 minutes later through Matthew Hoppe. The U.S. international found himself completely unmarked at the back post, and took advantage of the disastrous marking with an emphatic finish to the far post that left Panicco frozen.
San Jose pressed hard for a winner towards the end of the match, including a wild sequence of four shots inside a minute. Nashville held strong, though, with a few big saves from Panicco and help from the posts, and head back to Music City with four points from two difficult road matches.
The big picture
A win would have clinched a playoff spot, but it’s hard to argue with the result. Nashville end the night in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind New England Revolution. Notably, though, they’ll play four of their last five regular season matches at Geodis Park, with head-to-head matchups against Orlando, New England and Philadelphia.
Hany Mukhtar’s assist puts him in historic company. With 15 goals and 10 assists in 2023, he becomes the seventh player in MLS history to have 10 goals and 10 assists in three seasons. He’s just the second player to do it in three consecutive seasons, and the first player to do it in 25 seasons. With 54 goals and 33 assists in his last 93 regular season matches, he has firmly cemented himself as one of the best attackers ever to play in Major League Soccer.