Nashville SC’s attack this year has been led by a three-headed monster of Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal and CJ Sapong.
You could call them ... M-L-S.
Their recent run of form has helped Nashville SC remain unbeaten in 13 home matches this season and put the club in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 14 matches remaining in the Major League Soccer regular season.
Here are some numbers behind the M-L-S trio’s incredible run:
Hany Mukhtar – Eight Goals, Seven Assists
Nashville’s dynamic midfield runs through Mukhtar. Leading the team with 15 combined goals and assists, Mukhtar has been lighting up the scoreboard since scoring a brace at Atlanta United FC on May 29. All of his team-high seven assists, and seven of his eight goals have come in that stretch.
Mukhtar’s impact comes through both distribution and scoring. His 0.43 assists per 90 minutes leads the team among players with more than one assist, and his 31 key passes are the most among Nashville’s attacking players and second on the team overall behind defender Dan Lovitz (33).
Mukhtar can also create chances for himself. His 20 successful dribbles lead the team this season, as well as his 24 shots on target. Two of his goals have come from outside the 18-yard box, more than anyone else on the team.
Randall Leal – Three Goals, Six Assists
The Costa Rican winger has been a creative engine for the Boys in Gold, and for his fellow attackers in particular. Three of his six assists this season have been to Sapong or Mukhtar. Leal averages 0.38 assists per 90 minutes, second-most among players with more than one assist. Nashville has won every match since the start of July in which Leal had a goal or assist.
Leal leads Nashville’s attacking players in passes in the attacking zone of the pitch with 304, meaning he is a focal point of distribution and attack. When he’s not leading the charge and creating for his teammates, he’s consistently challenging goalkeepers. His 53.7% shot accuracy is the best on the team among players who have played more than 90 minutes.
CJ Sapong – Nine Goals, Three Assists
Nashville SC’s striker has been on a tear over the last two months. Eight of his nine goals this season have come since the start of July. He’s scored seven goals in his last seven starts, including four goals in his last three starts.
The numbers also show just how effective Sapong has been as a target forward for Mukhtar and Leal to feed from the midfield or the wing. Sapong has converted 23.1% of his shots, the highest on the team among players with 10 or more shots. In addition, four of his nine goals came from headers, good to tie him for second in the league. No other player on the team has more than one headed goal this season. Those numbers demonstrate Sapong’s aerial ability and chemistry with his fellow attackers, who can lay perfect high crosses for him.
The M-L-S Connection is back in action this Saturday on the road when Nashville SC takes on Atlanta United FC on national television on Univision, TUDN and Twitter. Tune in at 2:30 p.m. CT.