The regular season is over. The second season has begun.
For the third time in its short Major League Soccer history, (5) Nashville SC is in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. First up is a clash on the road at (4) LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Nashville is one of five teams to reach the playoffs in its first three seasons in MLS (Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders FC, Atlanta United FC and LAFC). The Boys in Gold finished the 2022 regular season with five wins and two draws in their last eight matches, including a 1-0 win over Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC on Decision Day last Sunday.
Saturday will mark Nashville SC’s first playoff match in the Western Conference. In its first two seasons in the East, Nashville SC never lost in regulation time in the playoffs. In 2020 and 2021, the Boys in Gold concluded their playoff run in the Conference Semifinal Rounds falling to the Columbus Crew in extra time and to Philadelphia Union in penalties, respectively.
Fresh off winning the MLS Golden Boot and being named an MVP finalist, attacker Hany Mukhtar will be looking to extend his 23-goal scoring form from the regular season into the postseason. He’ll have to do so up against LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who scored four goals in his last four starts to close out the regular season.
Fans in Nashville can watch the match with other Gold and Blue fans at the club’s official watch party on the North Plaza of GEODIS Park. We'll have food, drinks, games and giveaways for all fans in attendance. The party starts at 12:30 p.m.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s playoff match:
Date: Saturday, Oct. 15
Time: 2:00 p.m. CT
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, Calif.)
TV: Univision, TUDN*
Stream: MLSSoccer.com, MLS app
Radio: iHeartRadio Online, Nashville SC App
Watch Party: GEODIS Park North Plaza (CLICK HERE TO RSVP)
*For channel listings and information on the SAP function with your TV provider, click here.
Road Warriors – Nashville SC will have to go on the road for at least its first two matches of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The team is familiar with the road grind this season, having spent the first eight matches of the season on the road. Nashville set a club record with seven road wins and 22 goals scored away from home. Additionally, its 20 goals allowed on the road is the lowest total in the Western Conference.
After finishing the regular season on the road at LAFC last weekend, goalkeeper Joe Willis says the team is feeling good going into another tough test.
“A lot of the preparation we can mirror from last week to this week,” Willis said. “Having that win and giving ourselves the confidence that we can go to difficult places and get results, it’s huge for us. It’s a massive confidence boost. At the end of the day, we know that whatever happened in the past doesn't really matter. It’s one and done. If you don’t show up on the day, you don’t get second chances.”
Golden Boot Scootin’ - Hany Mukhtar enters the postseason with a trophy in his cabinet as he won the MLS Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer with 23 goals.
He finished the regular season red-hot, scoring 10 goals in his last nine matches, including a penalty converted against LA Galaxy on Sept. 10. Head Coach Gary Smith said Mukhtar deserves even more silverware this year.
“If we look back across the course of the season, you’re going to see some fantastic goals, some tremendous performances and an individual that should be backing up the Golden Boot with the MVP award,” Smith said. “It’s a given. He’s been wonderful this year and he’s been the difference for our group.”
Scouting LA Galaxy – This will be the third meeting between Nashville and the Galaxy in 2022. LA took a 1-0 win in April in the final match of Nashville SC’s eight-match road swing to start the season. On Sept. 10, a late Galaxy penalty at GEODIS Park drew the two sides level in a 1-1 draw.
LA Galaxy is one of the most storied clubs in MLS, winning a record five MLS Cup titles and a total of nine MLS Cup Final appearances. Smith expects a tough encounter in Carson on Saturday.
“It won’t be easy,” Smith said. “It never is there. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a side that have invested an awful lot in their group. They’ve got a great history and we’ll see it as another opportunity to maybe stick another stripe on our arm and take another big gun down.”