Nashville SC’s playoff hopes get “shot in the arm” with lopsided win over FC Dallas
Nashville SC entered Sunday’s match against FC Dallas winless (0W-3L-3D) in six games, last tasting victory on July 13 against the Seattle Sounders.
A 4-0 romp over an opponent missing Jesus Ferriera, however, gave the Boys in Gold a massive win amid their quest for three Audi MLS Cup Playoff appearances in as many seasons in the league. They’re currently on 36 points and sit sixth in the Western Conference with seven matches remaining.
Nashville head coach Gary Smith touted “so many positives” from the evening, but one that will go without saying was another masterful performance from Hany Mukhtar, who opened the scoring in the 5th minute from an impossible angle before completing his brace in the 33rd with an AT&T 5G Goal of the Week candidate on a brilliant free kick.
The German now has 16 goals, two shy of the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi pace set by Austin FC star Sebastián Driussi.
WATCH: All Hail Hany! Mukhtar’s brilliant brace vs. FC Dallas is a sight to behold
“Hany was exceptional again,” Smith said. “Two outstanding goals. The first goal was from such an acute angle and his free kick was sublime.”
Smith was also complimentary of Jacob Shaffelburg, who signed with the club on loan from Toronto FC on August 2 but made his Nashville debut on Sunday and played 45 minutes.
The Canadian international, who was kept off the pitch while gaining his work visa, opened his account in 2022 by getting on the end of a gorgeous bit of skill by Mukhtar to make it 2-0 in favor of the Coyotes in the 26th minute, before drawing the foul that led to Muhktar’s free-kick goal.
“We weren’t sure when Jacob was going to get in, so we haven’t had many sessions with him, but…even in a short period of time, in a short window of 45 minutes, I couldn’t have wished for any more,” said Smith. “He’s instrumental in Hany’s free kick, earning it. The power and pace that he has through the middle of the field was a very different look for us.”
GOAL: Jacob Shaffelburg, Nashville SC – 26th minute
Not only did NSC produce their highest scoring game of season, but they kept a clean sheet, something they hadn’t done since the aforementioned win over the Sounders. Sunday’s lopsided result also snapped a four-match spell at GEODIS Park that saw Nashville claim just one out of a possible 12 points, an about-face for a side that at one time had gone unbeaten in Music City 25 times across all competitions.
With his team headed for a trek across the continent to face eighth-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday (10:00 p.m. ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), Smith was hopeful that Sunday’s win can help his team finish the regular season on a positive note. That’s especially considering that just two points separate Nashville and Vancouver in the standings.
“It’s been, for sure, our flattest period since we’ve been in MLS, and the big, big confidence boost, not only to win, but in the manner that we’ve won [at a] very important juncture in the season…the big hope is that it gives everyone a shot in the arm,” he said.
HIGHLIGHTS: Nashville SC vs. FC Dallas | August 21, 2022