Five Things To Look Forward To This Season With Nashville SC

Pictured L-R: Hany Mukhtar, Shaq Moore and Jacob Shaffelburg. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC’s fourth season in MLS is here and there is a lot to watch this year for the Boys in Gold.

Now that Nashville has become a respected club with an array of accomplishments, expectations are much higher and opposing teams will be fighting hard to earn a win against them.

After Hany Mukhtar‘s unbelievable performance in 2022, winning the MVP and the Golden Boot, all eyes will be on the German international. But if Nashville wants to see the same or greater success than last season, the club will need some big performances from other players.

This season there is much look forward to. Between a few new players, guys who were injured last season but are game-ready now, as well as some matches that will be must see.

Here are The Sports Credential‘s Five Things to look out for this upcoming season.

5 – Nashville SC Hosts Cincinnati on March 25

The Boys in Gold will have a top-tier rivalry game at GEODIS Park just five matches into their season when FC Cincinnati comes to town. Cincinnati has slowly become one of Nashville SC’s rivals with plenty of banter going back-and-forth between supporters on social media. Cincinnati finished fifth in the Eastern Conference last season, beating the New York Red Bulls in the first round of the MLS Playoffs.

Superstar player Brandon Vazquez had a stellar season, scoring 18 goals and eight assists. Vazquez is an up-and-coming superstar who will want to make his mark on the league. No better time to do that than against a rival and against the team with the reigning MVP. Nashville only had one chance to play Cincinnati last season in July, which ended in a one-one draw.

This will be a match between two teams of equal talent and similar expectations. Cincinnati fans will definitely travel to Music City for this game so the chanting back-and-forth between the supporters’ sections will be fantastic, so this is a game you’ll want on your list.


Aníbal Godoy. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

4 – Aníbal Godoy Back From Injury

In 2022, Aníbal Godoy was dealing with injuries throughout the entire season and only made 19 appearances and started just 11 times. He also played just 946 minutes opposed to over 2,000 minutes in 2021. His presence was missed as Godoy has been a solid midfielder for Nashville since he joined the club in 2020. He averages a passing percentage of around 90 percent in each of the last seven seasons, and was a player the Boys in Gold could rely on for his physicality.

Godoy was able to draw 46 fouls in 2021 and over 50 in 2020. Being able to draw as many fouls as he can sets up players like Mukhtar and Randall Leal to score. If Godoy stays healthy in 2023 and gets ample playing time, it could be a major difference for Nashville SC and their season.

He’s definitely a player to watch out for and many fans will be waiting patiently to see if he is in the staring lineup on Saturday.


3 – Nashville SC At Atlanta United On August 26 With Nine Games Left

When Nashville SC visits Atlanta United in late August, there is no telling where their season could be. If it’s anything like last season, it’ll be hanging on with just a handful of games left. Atlanta United isn’t the powerhouse it was a few years ago, but they aren’t bottom feeders just yet and its safe to say when Nashville SC comes into town, they’ll be putting up a fight.

Nashville played Atlanta twice last season, once in a U.S. Open Cup showdown which ended in extra time and in a regular season match which ended in a two-two draw. But now back in the Eastern Conference, this rivalry will be ramped up again and will mean more in the standings. Atlanta may be out of the playoff picture, especially after losing former MVP Josef Martinez, but they always put a quality team on the pitch.

This could be a game that determines a lot in the standings with just nine games left in the regular season schedule. Mark your calendar for this one.


Randall Leal celebrating his equalizing goal against Philadelphia at the GEDOIS Park opener. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

2 – Randall Leal Needs To Have a Big Season & He Knows It

Randall Leal scored the first Nashville SC goal ever at GEODIS Park and for that, he’s put his mark on the club’s history. But last season was far from great for Leal.

In 2022, Leal scored just two goals and had seven assists with 16 shots on target. Though these stats don’t fully show his performance last season, they are underwhelming and need to get better. Leal had some brilliant moments during the 2022 campaign. Fantastic passes that set up goals, great shots on goal that were nearly goals but just didn’t connect, and he was one of the fastest players on the pitch all season.

Leal had many positives in 2022, sadly they didn’t always turn into goals. That needs to change this season and Leal knows that he needs to have a big year for his club. All eyes will be on him to be one of Mukhtar’s supporting acts.


Jacob Shaffelburg. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

1 – The Rise Of Jacob Shaffelburg

The acquisition of Jacob Shaffelburg was one of the best moves Nashville made last season. On loan from Toronto FC, Shaffelburg played in eight games and scored two goals on 16 shots. Thought Nashville SC didn’t make a whole lot of moves in the offseason, they made the move to keep Shaffelburg.

Fans only got a glimpse of him last season and he fell into place so well with the squad. This season will be huge for him and he could turn out to be one of Nashville’s go-to forwards. Mukhtar needs help as he was Nashville’s best goal scorer by far and it will be difficult for him to repeat last season’s performance as he’ll have a target on his back. A full season with Shaffelburg could be a game-changer for Nashville. His presence could add an extra layer and he could become Nashville’s best player off the bench, if he doesn’t become an automatic starter.

He is only 23 years old and has shown a lot of promise in just a short amount of time. He is extremely fast and eager to make player into the box as we’ve seen last season. Therefore, Shaffelburg is definitely the player to watch out for this season.

Steven Boero