Five plays that show why Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar became 2022 MLS MVP
Five reasons why Hany Mukhtar became 2022 MLS MVP
Tennessean Staff, Nashville Tennessean
Reigning Major League Soccer MVP Hany Mukhtar and Nashville SC will host New York City FC on February 25 in the maiden opener of the 2023 regular season. It’s one of 10 games Nashville fans shouldn’t miss.
The game against NYCFC in two months (3:30 p.m., FOX) is one of four nationally televised games to air on Fox Sports, in addition to the new MLS Season Pass app on Apple TV+, which will bring local linear television for coverage of all replaces 34 games by a selected team.
MLS returned Nashville to the Eastern Conference in 2023, reviving rivalries with NYCFC, FC Cincinnati, Atlanta United and Orlando City. Here are 10 games Nashville fans must see next year:
Top 10 Nashville SC Games
February 25 vs. NYCFC
The 2022 Eastern Conference finalists and 2021 MLS Cup champions are coming to Geodis Park.
It will be the only late-afternoon game pitting Mukhtar and USA men’s World Cup contenders Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore against rising forwards Talles Magno, Héber and Gabriel Pereira.
April 1st in Orlando
Remember that October penalty shootout thriller when Orlando knocked Nashville out of the US Open Cup Quarterfinals? Or Mukhtar’s two goals in the 2021 postseason to knock out Orlando in Nashville’s final game at Nissan Stadium?
Whenever Nashville and Orlando meet, there’s drama, goals and 90 minutes of one-on-one battles.
April 22 vs. LAFC
The reigning MLS Cup champions won the two teams’ first meeting last July, but Nashville went to Banc of California Stadium in October and clinched a 1-0 win.
LAFC runs the most heavily loaded attack in MLS. Carlos Vela, Denis Bouanga and Chicho Arango led 2022 with Gareth Bale – the renowned Wales winger with Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid on his CV – off the bench.
April 29 against Atlanta
Since Atlanta completed its first two meetings, Nashville has been unbeaten in five consecutive MLS meetings against its southern brethren as of September 2020. Mukhtar has scored five goals in these meetings.
May 28 against Columbus
Nashville finally picked up its first win over the Crew in April after going 0-2-2 on an all-time basis against Columbus. The arrival of Columbus coach Wilfried Nancy from Montréal could be the boost needed to get them back to the level that gave them the 2020 MLS Cup. Cucho Hernandez, Lucas Zelarayán, Luis Diaz and Darlington Nagbe remain a handful to play against.
June 19 in Toronto
Guarantees often falter due to the extreme parity in the MLS, but this will endure: Toronto will not finish bottom of the East rankings like it did in 2022.
The Reds have bolstered their defense by signing veteran centre-back Matt Hedges to free-hand. Toronto is still home to two of the top five highest-paid players in MLS (Lorenzo Insigne, $14 million; Federico Bernardeschi, $6.3 million). Center forward Ayo Akinola will be on a full-season break after returning from a cruciate ligament injury.
July 15 in Cincinnati
Cincinnati is now a respectable player in the East. Center forward Brandon Vazquez, who scored 18 goals in 2022, led the way. Luciano Acosta led MLS in assists (19) and was second in key passes (80). Still, Cincinnati has never beaten Nashville in four MLS matches.
September 20 in Kansas City
in April, Nashville SKC served up their first home loss since the end of the 2021 season. Kansas City retaliated on June 16, giving Nashville its first loss at its new soccer stadium, Geodis Park. Kansas City is another team set to improve a lot going into 2022 (14th, West).
September 30 vs. Seattle
It’s Seattle centre-back Nouhou Tolo versus Hany Mukhtar. Raul Ruidíaz vs Walker Zimmerman. Jordan Morris vs. Shaq Moore. There are matchups to be seen on the field.
October 7th in Philly
The 2023 MLS decision day is October 21st, which means this game will have immense playoff implications. Philadelphia has finished first in the East in two of the last three seasons. In the odd year, it finished second. What fans see in this game will be a litmus test of who Nashville will be like in the postseason.
For Nashville SC or Tennessee football stories, contact Drake Hills at [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.