Nashville SC Clinch Playoff Berth For Third Straight Season, Lose 2-1 To Houston

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC is back in the MLS Cup Playoffs, making history yet again by being one of four clubs to go to three-straight MLS playoffs in its first three years of existence.

They officially punched their ticket when the Portland Timbers lost 2-1 to LAFC on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 2). The Boys in Gold had a great opportunity to slide into third place in the conference, but lost to Houston 2-1 in their final home game of the regular season.

“Being able to advance to the playoffs for a third consecutive year is something we are all so proud of, and know it puts our club in exclusive company,” says Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “The players and staff have worked so hard to put our club in this position, and can now press along with trying to achieve the best seed possible as we prepare for the postseason.”

Nashville’s road to a playoff berth in 2022 has been far from easy. In the summer, the club was struggling to produce goals and was piling up draws and losses, notably failing to pick up wins at home. The club had an impressive start, beginning the season with eight consecutive road matches before opening GEODIS Park. Nashville SC finished the stretch with more points per game (1.38) than any other team in league history to start a season with eight or more matches on the road.

In August and September, Hany Mukhtar exploded by leading the team to six straight games with a point, four of which were wins. In that stretch, Mukhtar scored nine goals and two assists. The German international is currently the MLS MVP frontrunner as he leads the league in goals with 23 and goals+assists ratio with 34.

NSC currently sits in fifth place with 47 points in the Western Conference with just one game remaining against Supporters Shield winner LAFC. Nashville hosted LAFC on July 17 and lost 2-1. A win against LA would be a huge momentum boost and could push them into third place, which would guarantee at least one home playoff game.

The Boys in Gold play LAFC on Sunday, Oct. 9. at 4 p.m. CT.

Nashville SC Announces 2022 Player Awards, Hany Mukhtar Named Team MVP

Hany Mukhtar. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC unveiled the honorees of its 2022 Players Awards at its annual team banquet on Wednesday night (Sept. 28) and, of course, Hany Mukhtar was named both MVP and Offensive MVP.

The Boys in Gold have had an interesting season to say the least. With the opening of GEODIS Park, the ups and downs throughout the season, and Mukhtar being the league MVP frontrunner, there has been a lot to celebrate and talk about.

Mukhtar received both awards for how undeniably important he’s been to the team’s success and likely playoff berth. As of now, he leads the league in goals with 23 and goals+assists ratio with 30. He’s either scored or assisted in 14 of the team’s last 15 matches, putting them in fourth place in the Western Conference at 47 points with just two games left in the regular season. He was named to the 2022 MLS All-Star team and led the MLS to beat Mexico’s Liga MX in the Skills Competition.

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Along with Mukhtar, defender Walker Zimmerman was named the club’s Defensive MVP. Zimmerman is the reigning back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year and has been a mainstay for Nashville SC. Only the second-ever American centerback to become a Designated Player, he is expected to set a new career-high in matches started, currently with 26, as he leads the club in accurate passes (1,149), touches (1,688), clearances (118), headed clearances (72) and outfield players in accurate long balls with 115.

Zimmerman’s efforts were also celebrated at the 2022 MLS All-Star Game, where he represented the MLS All Stars alongside Mukhtar.

Sean Davis has been named Newcomer of the Year. Davis joined Nashville after seven seasons with the New York Red Bulls and has become an integral part of the team’s makeup. He’s played all 32 games so far this season and leads outfield players in minutes played with 2,663 and interceptions with 56. Career-wise, Davis reached his 200th MLS Regular Season appearance on Aug. 27 as the team earned a decisive three-goal shutout at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Sean Davis. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The club’s Humanitarian of the Year award went to Taylor Washington for his outstanding work in the Nashville community. The winger has been a dedicated ambassador for Nashville SC’s inaugural Special Olympics Unified Team, teaching its athletes how to play soccer, and supporting them in their first-ever match, which took place on July 17.

Washington has also been influential in the club’s Kick Childhood Cancer (KCC) initiatives since 2020, making several hospital visits and raising awareness within the community on childhood cancer.

Most notably, as part of the KCC acts of kindness initiative this year, Washington surprised pediatric cancer patients and health care providers at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In addition to children, Washington spends time serving food at the local food kitchen and providing guidance for unhoused citizens in Nashville.

Pictured (L-R): Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs, Joe Willis, Taylor Washington, and Eric Miller with the Special Olympics of Tennessee. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Finally, Goal of the Year was awarded to Alex Muyl‘s goal against CF Montreal at GEODIS Park on May 18. Muyl has also been one to show off his fantastic footwork and it wasn’t different with this goal. It started off with a long pass from goalkeeper Joe Willis, in fluid motion, Muyl corralled the pass off his chest and darted towards the 18-yard box.

Coming from the right side of the pitch, Muyl cut inside while dragging a defender to his left and fired a rocket off his left foot that curled into the upper portion of the side netting.

The guys have just two games left in the regular season, starting off with a home match against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Oct. 2. A win here could almost guarantee the Boys in Gold a spot in the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.

They end the season in Los Angeles to face the Western Conference leaders LAFC. Nashville lost to LAFC 2-1 in mid-July at GEODIS Park and will definitely be looking for at least a draw to close out the season.

Nashville SC To Host Fan Appreciation Night At Last Regular Season Home Match

Nashville SC fans at GEODIS Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club has just one more home game left of the regular season and plan on making it a fun one as they host its official Fan Appreciation Night at GEODIS Park on Sunday, Oct. 2. The Boys in Gold will take on the Houston Dynamo.

The event will highlight the club’s dedicated fanbase, feature family-friendly activities and showcase select fans’ talent as the pre-match and halftime entertainment. 

The winner of the 2022 Riff Off Competition, Bill Worrell, will perform the pre-match guitar riff right before kickoff. Chosen from online fan submissions, Nashville SC will also feature a variety of musicians and artists for the pre-match and halftime entertainment, including The Decades, Nathan Ramirez (also known as Virtues), Sarah Somebody, The Band Pacific, Lana Scott, Kate Guidry and Aaron Farquhar. 

The Fan Zone outside the north concourse will also feature a variety of family-friendly activities, including an inflatable kick wall, video games and yard games, among others. When fans arrive at their seats, they will receive a CrowdSync LED wristband to wear throughout the match. The Nashville SC control room will activate the wristbands during the pre-match activities and throughout the match to electrify the stadium atmosphere for the players and fans.  

The club will also be offering two special beer options at a reduced price in the North, South and East concourses. Select 12 oz drafts will be available for $6 and select 20 oz drafts for $10. Fans can visit the Heineken Bar on the North Concourse; HIVE Bar, Lo Siento Bar and Cumberland Crafts on the East Concourse; and Refrescos Bar and HIVE Bar on the South Concourse for the drink specials.  

Additionally, to honor the dedicated supporters groups, Nashville SC will welcome members of each supporters group to carry their respective flag on the pitch alongside the GEODIS Community Flag before kickoff. Supporters groups being represented include The Assembly, The Roadies, Eastern Front, Music City Heaters, La Brigada de Oro and The Mixtape 615.  

Fans interested in attending the game can head to Nashville SC’s official website to purchase single match tickets.

Nashville SC Names Ian Ayre & Chad Emerson To Staff For Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro Team

Nashville Soccer Club has announced that CEO Ian Ayre will serve as President and Chad Emerson as the Managing Director of Business Operations of the MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Hiring Ian to be the CEO of Nashville SC was the best decision I have made as owner of the organization,” says Nashville SC owner John Ingram. “Naming Ian President of the Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro team signals our commitment to making this project a tremendous success. Ian’s experience and understanding of what it takes to get a club up and running put us in an excellent position in Huntsville.”

Emerson is the former founding CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc. (DHI), a position he’s held since 2013. He has been the driving force behind transforming Huntsville’s downtown into a thriving cultural and commercial center. Under his leadership, DHI has won several awards, including multiple International Downtown Association awards for placemaking and unique downtown projects, and the city’s recent ranking as the No. 1 city in America to live by U.S. News & World Report. Prior to his role at DHI, Emerson served as the Director of City Development for Montgomery, Alabama, as well as a consultant to more than 30 different cities on downtown and urban redevelopment strategies.

“I am pleased to have found somebody with Chad’s local experience to lead our business efforts for our NEXT Pro team,” says Ayre. “As we saw during the building of Nashville Soccer Club, having key people who know and understand the local market are crucial in shaping the club and the business to fit with the city.  I feel confident that Chad and the team we assemble can build something unique and fitting for the City of Huntsville.”

“The Huntsville success story is built on a great quality of life and incredible collaboration,” adds Emerson. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of the City of Huntsville and Nashville SC, we’re excited to bring MLS NEXT Pro to Huntsville as a new quality of life amenity and a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our North Alabama communities.”

Ayre, who has held the role of Nashville SC CEO since 2018, has been an integral piece to the club’s success in its first three seasons as an expansion side. The former CEO of Liverpool Football Club and English Premier League CEO of the Year has helped Nashville SC reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in every season and achieve a top-five average attendance among all MLS teams in its first year at GEODIS Park, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. and Canada.

MLS NEXT Pro completes the integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams and allows young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while competing for an MLS NEXT Pro championship. Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro will bring professional soccer closer to fans and supporters in North Alabama, and the team will make Joe Davis Stadium its home following completed renovations in May 2023.

The Lost Paddy: Nashville’s Newest Haven For Its Growing Soccer Fandom [Interview]

Photo: Courtesy of The Lost Paddy

As soccer continues to grow in Music City and Nashville SC’s fandom spreads its reach further and further, fans will need to find a way to get their soccer kick when NSC is playing an away game or during the MLS off season.

Nashville has some of the best bars in the country and sports bars are no stranger to the city. So many have become homes for popular college teams, like Alabama, Kentucky and University of Tennessee, and others are havens for NFL and MLB teams, like the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs.

However, very few have welcomed in the growing sport of soccer like The Lost Paddy has.

Folks who go to The Lost Paddy, located off of Murfreesboro Pike, can enjoy live sports–mostly soccer–in a pub filled with both soccer and Irish/British decor to give it an authentic feel.  Customers can enjoy its menu of both classic Irish and American dishes, which include fish & chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie. The pub is also home to some of the best poured Guinness in the city, and features other Irish and European draft beers like Sullivan’s, Magner’s Irish Cider and Carlsberg.

“My intent coming [to Nashville] was, number one, I’m going to be opening an Irish pub. Number two, like Conor McGregor said, ‘I don’t come in to take part, I come in to take over,'” Lost Paddy owner Micheal [pronounced Mehaul] O’Leary shares with The Sports Credential. “I’m going to have the pub to watch soccer at.”

O’Leary, a native of Dublin, Ireland, has plenty of experience running soccer-focused pubs from when he lived in Culver City, California. There he owned Joxer Daly’s Pub and Restaurant, which became a home for the Scottish team Celtic FC.

The Lost Paddy owner Micheal O’Leary. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club

O’Leary moved to Nashville for a fresh start and picked Nashville for its obvious growth and small business friendly economy. He wanted to open up a soccer pub that really embraced the city’s growing community as Nashville SC began to emerge as a top club in the MLS with a dedicated fanbase.

The NSC supporter’s group, The Assembly, calls The Lost Paddy home when the Boys in Gold aren’t playing at GEODIS Park. On away game days, you can also find dozens of Nashville SC fans glued to the main TV, cheering, screaming and singing while watching their team.

“There’s a few reasons [we go there],” notes The Assembly founder Jason Petty. “Before we went to The Lost Paddy, we tried a few other spots and felt a little like an afterthought. We had some issues getting a spot to set up and getting TVs on the game.”

He continues, “I had met Micheal at a watch party for the women’s World Cup in 2019 and learned about The Lost Paddy. He wanted to make the bar the spot for soccer in town. We had some issues with a spot we were watching away matches at in the middle of 2019 and decided to make the move.

“To us, the pub feels like the home we have been searching for since we started doing watch parties for away matches. We’ve drew some pretty big crowds there and we hope we can continue to do so in the years to come.”

The Nashville Assembly joined by The Lost Paddy owner Micheal O’Leary (laying on the bench). Photo: Kelly Stooksberry

O’Leary isn’t just here to own a popular pub, though. Rather, he wants to be part of any group or organization that’ll help grow the sport and help grow Nashville SC. In fact, in Culver City, he wasn’t just a small business owner, he was a member of the city council and, eventually, the mayor, making him no stranger to getting involved in the community and offering his voice.

O’Leary didn’t create this environment over night, either. He spent a lot of time scouting other English/Irish styled pubs and bars that were deemed “soccer pubs.” He wanted to see the competition, what worked, what didn’t, and create a space that could grow into the top spot to watch soccer.

“In the six months that we were getting the place up and running, I was going around seeing who was doing what,” O’Leary recalls. “I even drove for Uber and Lyft and I was like, ‘I gotta go see all these other places. What are they doing? What are you doing differently for what I’m planning on doing?'” He continues, “I would go in and watch a soccer game in a corner with just one TV and there would be basketball and hockey on. There would be music on and guys just huddled together… [These places] didn’t know what they were doing.

“You’re going to get the loyal fans, but that’s not how you build a crowd. My intent, which has worked for me, is that if there’s a big soccer game, it gets priority over all of the sports in this pub.”

Nashville SC fans at a watch party at The Lost Paddy. Photo: Kelly Stooksberry

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is just months away, starting on Nov. 20, and The Lost Paddy will be one of the top spots to watch the games. With the World Cup being in Qatar, the time differences in the United States will be quite different with games airing from 4 a.m. to the middle of the day. The Lost Paddy will have no problem working around that schedule, though, as they plan to show every single minute of every single game.

“We will be showing all of the World Cup games. It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night, we’ll be showing them live,” O’Leary puts simply. “There might be restrictions, depending on what time of the day. We might not be able to serve alcohol but we’ll have coffee. We’ll do whatever it takes to be able to show a game at whatever time of the day.”

O’Leary’s intent with The Lost Paddy was to be involved in the soccer community with local fan groups of European soccer clubs, as well as Nashville SC. The pub is an official Pub Partner of NSC and has been named the designated watch party location many times.

The Lost Paddy has become not only a hub for the local soccer fan, but also a place for fans and participants of other sports outside of the major American sports.

The Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club (NGAC) also calls the pub home, holding their meetings there. The NGAC is a local club open to anyone who loves and wants to play traditional Irish games played in the Gaelic Athletic Association, including Gaelic football, camogie and hurling, a fast-paced, high-scoring, stick-and-ball field game which is the national sport of Ireland.

Members of the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club with pub owner Micheal O’Leary. Photo: Courtesy of the NGAC

“Before the Nashville GAC even knew The Lost Paddy was opening in Nashville, proprietor Micheal O’Leary reached out to say hello and ask if he could come to a match,” the Nashville GAC states. “We’ve had incredible relationships with several businesses in Middle Tennessee, but Micheal was the first to reach out to us rather than the other way around. That kind of welcome told us he was interested in much more than a business transaction—he was excited to be a fan and a friend.”

The Lost Paddy has also become a hub for the growing sport of rugby as a sponsor for a the Nashville Rugby Club and frequently hosting meetings. Rugby fans can come to The Lost Paddy to watch many of their favorite professional clubs, as well as major international matchups.

The pub is only in its fourth year of operation but is already a mainstay for so many soccer fans and other sports fans. As the soccer continues to grow, so will The Lost Paddy, and with it will come more opportunities for O’Leary to sink his teeth into helping build the growing community.

“That was part of the process,” emphasizes O’Leary. “[We want to support] not only soccer, but also other sports that other bars are not showing. We show the darts championship, we show cricket. We’re just trying to be that place where if you can’t get it anywhere else, you can get it at the Paddy.”

He sums, “If you’re lost in Nashville, come to the Paddy.”

Walker Zimmerman Called Up For International Friendlies Ahead Of World Cup

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC defenseman Walker Zimmerman has been called up by the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) to play in two international friendlies between Japan and Saudi Arabia in late September.

Zimmerman has 31 appearances with the national team and was part of the team’s journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The two-time MLS Defender of the Year has appeared in 10 qualifiers for USA.

So far this calendar year, Zimmerman has appeared in seven matches for the United States, anchoring the backline to a 5W-1L-2D record and six clean sheets.

“As we approach the World Cup, this is another opportunity for us to take a step forward as a group,” says USMNT team coach Gregg Berhalter. “We have a strong roster and can use these games as a measuring stick against World Cup opponents as we continue to gain valuable experience ahead of going to Qatar.”

The Stars and Stripes will face Japan on Friday, Sept. 23 at Düsseldorf Arena, in Düsseldorf, Germany with kickoff slated for 7:25 a.m. CT. The U.S. will finish up the international window on Tuesday, Sept. 27 vs. Saudi Arabia at Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia, Spain. That match will kick off at 1 p.m. CT. 

The USMNT World Cup journey will start on Nov. 21 when they face a very talented and determined Wales team at 1 p.m CT before taking on a World Cup favorite in England on Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. CT.

Walker Zimmerman, Hany Mukhtar Among The Top 25 Selling Jerseys In MLS

Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC superstars and Designated Players Walker Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar are featured on the list of the top selling 25 Adidas jerseys in the League sold on MLSStore.com.

Zimmerman’s No. 25 jersey sits at No. 10 on the list, while MLS MVP front-runner Mukhtar’s No. 1o jersey is included in the top 20 as the 17th highest selling Adidas jersey among all MLS players.

A three-time MLS All-Star and back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year, Zimmerman has been an anchor for Nashville SC and the U.S. Men’s National Team. He was crucial in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, captaining the States and appearing in 10 World Cup Qualifying matches. He looks to continue that success this November in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Mukhtar is the current MLS Golden Boot leader and is coming off another goal-scoring performance after this weekend’s 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy. The German international has scored 22 goals in the 2022 regular season, marking a career-high and two more than the next leading goal scorer in Austin FC’s Sebastián Driussi.

A record-setting 15 MLS clubs are represented on the top 25 list. Seven players on the list have played in a FIFA World Cup match, and nine players were selected alongside Zimmerman and Mukhtar as 2022 MLS All-Stars.

Hany Mukhtar Named MLS Player Of The Month After MVP-Caliber August

Hany Mulhtar with NSC super fan Soccer Moses. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The month of August was Hany Mukhtar‘s as he scored seven goals and five assists, and was crowned MLS Player of the Month as the league MVP race continues to heat up.

Mukhtar becomes the first Nashville SC player and first German to win the award.

The NSC attacker’s stellar month included a hat trick on Aug. 31 against the Colorado Rapids, the second of his MLS career and first-ever hat trick in GEODIS Park. Mukhtar earned Player of the Week honors after that performance, becoming the only player to win the award multiple times in the past two seasons. This marked his fifth Player of the Week honor since 2020, the most by an MLS player.

Mukhtar is now the fourth player in league history to reach 12 goal contributions (seven goals, five assists) in a calendar month. Mukhtar’s seven goals in August were the most of any player in the month.

Mukhtar leads the league in goals scored with 21, setting a new club-single season record, a mark in which he previously held. The MLS All-Star has reached 32 goal contributions this season (21 goals, 11 assists), which is five more than the player ranking second in that category. He has scored multiple goals in a match six times this season, which is more than any other MLS player.

The German international is now the first player to reach 30 goal contributions in a single season since LAFC’s Carlos Vela set the single-season MLS record in 2019 with 49, per MLS.

Mukhtar started his September campaign in spectacular fashion after scoring a brace and leading Nashville to a 3-0 win over Austin FC and fellow MVP hopeful Sebastián Driussi.

Mukhtar has guided Nashville to a club-record four-match consecutive winning streak, a stretch that has seen Nashville SC outscore its opponents 14-1. The Boys in Gold now sit in the standings with 45 points, just one point shy of the third seed in the Western Conference.

Nashville will face LA Galaxy on Saturday, Sept. 10 at GEODIS Park for its fourth to last game of the regular season.