In their first-ever Leagues Cup, Nashville defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 after some second-half subs proved to be the difference. Nashville SC started their inaugural Leagues Cup match on Sunday Night. With how the last few games ended for Nashville SC, Manager Gary Smith had some choices to make on how seriously he wanted to take this new midseason tournament. He had two options: give his players much-needed rest as they were starting to wear down before the all-star break, or play his players back into form in an attempt to get out of the scoring slump they were in. Smith managed to use both strategies, by giving Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman & Hany Mukhtar slight rest by not starting them, but also by giving players like Teal Bunbury, Randall Leal, and Jacob Shaffelburg starts to try and re-find their form.
The first half didn’t offer much when it came to notable moments, but it has to be said that Colorado was the team who seemed to be the most threatening. However, there was nothing to show for it on the scoresheet. Once the second half started, it didn’t take long for Smith to bring on his star man, Mukhtar. In literally his second touch, Mukhtar got a goal after a beautiful give-and-go between Dax McCarty and himself. He then went on to give the perfect assist to Jacob Shaffelburg only a few minutes later. It was a nice bit of skill on the right wing and his pass gave Shaffelburg no choice other than to score. Colorado pulled one back in the 80th min for a bit of a consolation goal by Andrew Gutman.
Sunday night’s performance by Mukhtar was needed on many levels both personally and for Nashville SC. Mukhtar of course expects a lot of himself in front of the goal and for the first time this season, he hit a scoring drought. For him to regain some confidence in front of the net amid all the rumors of a bid coming in for him from a team in Qatar was just what the doctor ordered. For Nashville SC, it was important to see Mukhtar regain his form because this season has been so heavily reliant on his goal contributions. It has shown that when Mukhtar struggles, Nashville SC does too.
Nashville SC will be back in action at Geodis Park on Thursday night as they welcome Liga MX side Toluca.
Patton Cook / WNSR Columnist
@Patton_Cook on Twitter