Nashville SC midfielder Hany Mukhtar entered the month of May with a pair of goals and four assists to his name in 2022.
By the end of May, the German had eight goals and six assists across all competitions, including a brace on Saturday night in a 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids.
Mukhtar struck early and often in the Rockies, scoring in the 15’ and 17’ minutes en route to the win. Head Coach Gary Smith was delighted with Mukhtar’s output at the end of such an eight-match stretch in May.
“It all came so thick and fast, didn’t it?” Smith said. “To get ourselves in front was a real positive step. I always felt if we could get our noses just nudged in front, then we could make life quite difficult for Colorado. But I truly didn’t expect to take the sort of lead that we did. I thought [Mukhtar’s first] goal, when [Hany] took on the central defender and smashed it into the roof of the net, was a terrific individual bit of quality. And I couldn’t quite see from the angle I was at, but his header looked like it skipped off the surface and took the goalkeeper a little bit by surprise.”
After forward CJ Sapong opened the scoring in the eighth minute, Mukhtar doubled Nashville’s lead with a fantastic turn and finish on the left side of the box. Minutes later, midfielder Luke Haakenson lobbed a perfect ball to Mukhtar in the box to head home and stretch Nashville’s advantage for good.
The goals rounded out a four-goal week for the Designated Player, having scored in Nashville’s 2-2 draw vs. Atlanta United last Saturday and in a 2-1 win at Louisville City FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 32. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his efforts in Colorado.
Smith says Mukhtar’s form helps to boost the entire team.
“Having Hany firing on all cylinders is really the tipping point for the group,” Smith said. “We’ve shown an awful lot of qualities throughout this team. We’ve got some very good players in the group. But when you can have a creator, it bodes well for the number of home matches we have, and the opportunity to compete for those postseason matches again.”
With the victory, Nashville enters the international break in sixth place in the Western Conference, sitting just three points behind second-place FC Dallas and five points clear of eighth-place Minnesota United FC. The win also concluded a run of eight matches in 28 days. The Boys in Gold won five of those matches, drew two and lost just one.
Smith said that Saturday’s win helped put a bow on such a grueling run through May.
“I’m just very pleased, at the end of a long, difficult stretch of games, that we can bang three points on the board and beat one of our, probably, closest rivals for those playoff positions.”
Nashville SC is back in action at GEODIS Park on Saturday, June 11 against San Jose Earthquakes. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available here.