Nashville SC’s Scoring Woes Continue After Loss To Philadelphia

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

For the fourth time in five games, Nashville SC has lost without scoring a goal as they dropped another three points to Philadelphia Union at GEODIS Park on Wednesday night (July 12).

The loss was one of the most frustrating games Nashville has played all season and can be argued one of their worst performances in club history. The Boys in Gold were able to create some excellent opportunities but seemed like they couldn’t buy a goal. In the 52nd minute, Hany Mukhtar chipped the goalkeeper and hit the crossbar, nearly equalizing. In the 69th minute, Fafà Picault hit the left post on a chaotic corner kick sequence that saw Nashville earn two to three more opportunities that were blocked by Union defenders. In the 74th minute, Nashville earned a penalty for a handball in the box, only for it to be called back after a VAR review.

Moments from Randal Leal, Teal Bunbury and Lukas MacNaughton weren’t capitalized on. Outside of last week’s 2-0 win over D.C. United, Nashville has lost 1-0 to Montreal F.C., 2-0 to Columbus Crew and 1-0 to a very poor Chicago Fire side. But Wednesday’s loss just really put into perspective what needs to happen before fans can start to worry. They were creating chances and opportunities but just struggled to connect anything, especially in the second half.

“There were a couple of things that were very very influential here tonight, our lack of clinical edging in front of goal, opportunities to get our noses in front and in a tight game, that was always going to be important,” said head coach Gary Smith in a postgame press conference. “In the second half, I think we started very well, again with some opportunities to get back on level terms, and maybe make a bit of a game with it.”

On top of all these issues scoring, Nashville lost two players due to red cards with Daniel Lovitz receiving two yellow cards, both in the penalty box followed by Philly’s two goals, and Shaq Moore who received a straight red after getting into a physical altercation with Philadelphia’s Julian Carranza who was also sent off. Now NSC will be playing against the league’s best Cincinnati FC without their fullbacks. But this brings up another aspect of Wednesday’s game which was over 90 minutes of poor officiating from referee Sergii Boiko. Smith made his frustrations very clear, pointing out the inconsistency of calls on both teams.

“I think it was clear for everyone to see in the crowd that this inexperienced referee, which is what he is, I think we looked and he had 10 games in MLS, looked way way out of his depth tonight,” said Smith. “And it wasn’t just some of the decisions that were made regarding penalties, I in fact felt that they were both penalties against us. It certainly looked as if they were clear cut fouls, but that’s not what I’m criticizing here. There were so many other decisions within the run of play.”

Smith pointed out a handful of calls and non-calls that he couldn’t believe Boiko made which allowed the game to get out of hand due to the fact that some players took advantage, said Smith.

“There were so many different situations that he just looked flummoxed about. There were clear cut fouls that we made, that were so obviously fouls that he just let go,” said Smith. “And what happens then is, you’ve got a serious game here, two vs. four (in the standings) three points behind us, game in hand for Philadelphia, it was always going to be competitive because of that reason. We’ve had very good games against Philly in the past, so expect there’s going to be a like minded game, you’ve got to have somebody in the middle who’s going to be strong enough to deal with that situation. And it was obvious from minute one that he (Boiko) just couldn’t quite appreciate what a foul was, consistency within making those decisions and then of course the game gets aways from him.”

The next step for the Boys in Gold is to move on from this regrettable performance and try to prepare for top-seated Cincy. Trying to find a way to finish scoring opportunities while in the middle of this cold stretch and without your two fullbacks (Moore and Lovitz) is going to be extremely difficult but they have to make something work for Saturday (July 15).

“We haven’t scored a goal in four out of the last five games and I think tonight is more of a unique situation for all of the things we’ve spoken about. But there is no doubt about it, if we’re going to fight for the top four, if we’re going to be in a good spot, we’ve got to get something out of the game,” said Smith.

“And as I look back on a lot of games that I’ve been involved in, if you’re creating chances there’s always an opportunity for those guys to break through that barrier of disappointment and frustration and get themselves on a roll. If you’re not creating chances, that’s a totally different story.”

Nashville SC will visit Cincinnati this weekend to take on their rival in a game where NSC needs to pull out points.

Jacob Shaffelburg Shines In Concacaf Gold Cup As Canada Falls To USMNT

Jacob Shaffelburg. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) defeated Canada in the Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals in penalty kicks, finishing 2-2 after 120 minutes.

The win came after Canada tied with a penalty kick in stoppage and a go-ahead goal by Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg to give Canada a 2-1 lead in overtime. But another late USA goal sent the game into penalty kicks.

USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner led the team to victory by blocking two kicks to defeat Canada 3-2 in a shootout in front of 24,979 fans at TQL Stadium. With the win, the USMNT advances to face Panama in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals on Wednesday, July 12 at SnapDragon Stadium in San Diego, California at 7:30 p.m. ET. Nashville SC midfielder Aníbal Godoy is set to face the USMNT with Panama.

After a near scoreless phase of regular time, the USMNT grabbed an 88th-minute lead via a signature header from second-half substitute Brandon Vazquez, playing in front of his FC Cincinnati home fans.

Canada substitute Shaffelburg found the back of the net in the 109th minute against the run of play. The Nashville SC attacker picked up the ball in his own half, wriggled past Jesús Ferreira and backed up defender Matt Miazga before his low shot was deflected and nestled in the back of Turner’s net. But it was U.S. midfielder Gianluca Busio who forced an own goal off of Canada’s Scott Kennedy five minutes later to tie it again and send them into a shootout.

In the penalty kick shootout, Turner made saves on Canada’s first two attempts, while the USA’s Cade Cowell, Busio and Ferreira converted their spot kicks to push the team to the next round.

The game ended when forward Charles-Andreas Brym hit the crossbar with the final Canada attempt, triggering huge celebrations as the U.S. advanced to its 16th Gold Cup Semifinal.

With Canada’s tournament ending, Shaffelburg will make his way back to Nashville, but will most likely not play on Wednesday (July 12) when Philadelphia Union visit GEODIS Park.

Hany Mukhtar & Walker Zimmerman Selected To The 2023 MLS All-Star Game

Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman have been selected to the 2023 MLS All-Star Game vs English Premier League team Arsenal in Washington D.C. on July 19. The match can be seen on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app.

Mukhtar, the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, appeared in his first MLS All-Star festivities in 2022 in Minnesota by participating in the All-Star Game against LIGA MX as well as in the Skills Challenge. The German became the Skills Challenge’s hero as he hit the crossbar from distance sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Following a 2022 MVP and Golden Boot season, Mukhtar is in route to claiming back-to-back titles in 2023, as he leads MLS in goals scored (13) and goal contributions (20). Earlier this year, Mukhtar was named the MLS Player of the Month of May, after a hat trick performance against Chicago Fire FC on May 6, while guiding Nashville SC to five consecutive home wins, a club record. The sensation continued with a heroic start to June as he recorded a hat trick against the then Western Conference leaders St. Louis CITY SC. Mukhtar propelled the Boys in Gold to a 10-match unbeaten streak (7W-0L-3D), the best in club history.

Making his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance, Zimmerman has been selected to the most All-Star Games of anyone on the 2023 roster. Zimmerman has anchored the best backline in MLS this season, allowing a league low 16 goals in league play, while competing at a high level at both the club and country. Offensively the Nashville SC captain started the 2023 campaign in a loud way as well, scoring the game-winning goal on opening day at GEODIS Park against New York City FC on Feb. 25.

With the United States Men’s National Team, Zimmerman has registered five caps this calendar year including two appearances in route to a Nations League Tournament win in Las Vegas Nevada with victories over Canada and Mexico.

Aníbal Godoy, Jacob Shaffelburg, Fafà Picault Called Up For Concacaf Gold Cup

Pictured (L-R, top): Jacob Shaffelburg and Fafà Picault; (bottom): AnÍbal Godoy. Photos: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC will lose three key players due to the Concacaf Gold Cup international calls of Aníbal Godoy (Panama) Fafà Picault (Haiti) and Jacob Shaffelburg (Canada).

Panama, who will participate in Group C, will open the tournament against Costa Rica on Monday, June 26 before taking on the winner of the Puerto Rico Preliminary Round match on Friday, June 30. Panama will wrap up the Group Stage against El Salvador on Tuesday, July 4.

Haiti, Group B, will face Qatar on Sunday, June 25 before a massive showdown against Mexico on Thursday, June 29. Haiti will wrap up the Group Stage on Sunday, July 2 against Honduras.

Canada, Group D, will start on Tuesday, June 27 against the winner of the Guadeloupe Preliminary Round match. Canada will then face Guatemala on Saturday, July 1 and conclude the Group Stage against Cuba on July 4.

Godoy has been the face of Panamanian soccer for over a decade, earning 126 caps for the Senior Team, and fulfilling the role of captain in 14 of his last 19 appearances. In 2022, he made 12 appearances, earning a 4W-3L-5D record and serving as captain seven times.

Godoy represented Panama in the 2023 Nations League Semifinal and third place playoff match last week, starting in both matches against Canada and Mexico and scoring a spectacular bicycle kick goal from inside the box that was ultimately overturned by VAR due to offside.

At the club level, he has guided the Nashville midfield to a spectacular 8W-2L-4D record in his 14 appearances this season. Godoy has anchored the midfield to an unbeaten record in his last nine appearances for the Boys in Gold. Nashville owns a 18W-7L-8D record in his appearances since 2022.

Picault is set to make his Haitian National Team debut. This season with Nashville SC, the midfielder has registered five goals and an assist across all competitions, and owns a perfect 6W-0L-0D record in 2023.

Shaffelburg is set to make his Gold Cup debut after earning four caps for the Canadian Senior Team in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in 2021-2022 against Jamaica and Panama as well as two international friendlies against Barbados and Bahrain.

Since making his debut for Nashville SC on Aug. 21, 2022, he has scored five goals and has been a catalyst, drawing three penalties for Nashville SC. The winger owns an all-time record of 14W-4L-7D in MLS play.

Nashville SC will compete in a pair of away matches this week, first traveling north of the border to take on CF Montréal today (June 21) before visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday (June 24). Both matches are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on MLS Season Pass in the Apple TV app and heard on 104.5 The Zone.

Hany Mukhtar Named MLS Player Of The Matchday For Hat Trick Against St. Louis

Hany Mukhtar celebrating a goal with his teammates. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Hany Mukhtar was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday for Matchday 19 after scoring a hat trick against St. Louis City on Saturday (June 17) at GEOIDS Park.

This marks the second time this season Mukhtar has earned the award. He claimed the first on Matchday 11, when he recorded a hat trick against Chicago Fire FC at GEODIS Park on May 6.

Mukhtar now has eight Player of the Matchday honors in his career and is the fourth player in MLS history to win multiple Player of the Matchday honors in three consecutive seasons. He stands alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sebastian Giovinco and Josef Martínez in accomplishing the feat.

The Reigning 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP got the party started on Saturday night with his fastest goal of the season in the 11th minute after a cross in the box by Shaq Moore from the right side was deflected towards Mukhtar—in the middle of the box—who then hammered it home. Mukhtar converted a penalty for his second goal after Jacob Shaffelburg was taken down from behind in the box.

The hat trick came after Dax McCarty set the German attacker with a nifty flick. Alone against the St. Louis keeper, Mukhtar delivered his final goal of the night. He now has four career MLS hat tricks and is just the 12th player in league history to hit that mark. The midfielder’s first goal was also his 50th over the past three seasons. With that goal, he became the third player in league history to score 50 goals and add 30 assists over a three-year span, joining Giovinco (2015-2017) and Robbie Keane (2012-2014, 2013-2015).

This season, Mukhtar leads all MLS players in goals (13) and goal contributions (20) and has recorded a goal or an assist in 10 of his last 13 league matches. He is also the only player in MLS to have an active streak of 10 goals and five assists in three straight seasons.

Mukhtar continues to make his case to become the first player in MLS history to win back-to-back Landon Donovan MLS MVP awards. When compared to his MVP season in 2022, he has four more goals and two extra assists through Matchday 18 in 2023. Mukhtar has scored multiple goals 14 times, as Nashville has never lost when he scored multiple goals owning a 12W-0L-2D record. Additionally, he has contributed to 90 of Nashville SC’s 159 goals in club history (56 goals, 34 assists).

Mukhtar and Nashville SC will hit the road for a pair of away matches this week, traveling north of the border to take on CF Montréal on Wednesday (June 21) before visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday (June 24). Both matches are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on MLS Season Pass in the Apple TV app and heard on 104.5 The Zone.

Nashville SC Signs Adem Sipić As First-Ever Homegrown Professional In Club History

L-R: Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre, Adem Sipić, club GM Mike Jacobs and majority owner John Ingram. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

In another historic moment, Nashville Soccer Club announced the signing of Academy product Adem Sipić, as Nashville SC’s first Homegrown player. Sipić will become eligible to compete as a Boy in Gold in Major League Soccer in the 2024 season through 2027, with a club option for 2028.

As part of the Homegrown Player program, Sipić becomes the first player in club history to complete the pathway to the pros for Nashville SC by developing through the club’s Academy onto Huntsville City Football Club, the club’s MLS NEXT Pro affiliate, and finally by signing a First Team contract.

“It was really just work ethic and coming into training every day with a good attitude and knowing you have a job to do,” said Sipić. “Just always working hard has been the biggest thing with me. I came into training every day with a positive mindset wanting to get better and help myself and also the people around me. I think the biggest thing would be just work ethic.”

Adem Sipić with Huntsville FC. Photo: Courtesy of Huntsville FC

The 17-year-old forward from Bowling Green, Ky. arrived at The Gold Mine, Nashville SC’s Academy, in 2020 as a U-15 player and quickly moved onto the U-17’s with whom he began playing as competition resumed in 2021, following the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

In his first MLS NEXT season, Sipić appeared in 15 matches and scored two goals. His development and improvement became noticeable in the 2022/23 season, as he helped propel Nashville SC’s U-17’s through the GA Cup qualifiers and ultimately to the 2023 GA Cup in Florida where he registered two goals. As the captain of the U-17’s, Sipić appeared in 14 matches scoring 16 goals throughout the season.

“Being professional is less about how much money you make and more about how you conduct your business,” said NSC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “Knowing that please trust me when I tell you Adem Sipić has been a professional long before we sign his first contract. As number of people that really need to get a pat in the back for making this all reality. John Ingram’s vision not only bring them less club to Nashville but it’s also want to see youth academy grown on his own Currey Ingram Academy campus that would attract some of the finest youth soccer players United States. We now have players in our Academy not only from the state of Tennessee, but also players from California, Michigan, Washington D.C. and Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Adem Sipić and Mike Jacobs. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

In addition to his performances at The Gold Mine, the young striker was called up several times to train with Nashville SC’s First Team during the club’s 2023 preseason and season, as he also moved up to compete with Huntsville City FC in the MLS NEXT Pro. Sipić made his Huntsville City FC debut in the club’s inaugural match against Crown Legacy on Mar. 26, as a second half sub, and recorded the shootout-winning kick from the spot in the sixth round.

In total, Sipić has appeared in six matches for HCFC. Just this past Sunday, June 11, the striker scored his first professional goal during the run of play in his first start in a 4-2 victory over St. Louis CITY2 at the Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium.

“Adem’s work rate is incredible, and it’s what has him here today, I think, his football ability, we will all see and everyone will see what type of player that he is,” said Kevin Flanagan, Nashville SC Academy Director. “The type of player that can be a big part of his character is his competitive character. He wants to win. He’s a super teammate. He wants to help his team win games. But I’d say we’re the biggest thing that will help him continue in his career is his ability to learn, he wants to learn. He comes with a mindset of you know, I’m here to learn to be working with a staff like Gary [Smith] and his team, he will only continue to grow, learn and develop as a player because of that mentality and that character that he brings.”

Adem Sipić with Nashville SC Academy. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The Homegrown Player Rule was launched in 2008 to allow clubs to sign local players from their own academies to their First Team rosters. Because of this rule, clubs can sign an unlimited amount of academy players to a first-team contract on any given year. Any Homegrown Player must have resided in the club’s home territory and participated in its youth development system for at least one year, as well as meeting other unspecified league requirements.

Sipić, who will continue to compete with Huntsville City FC in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season, will join the Boys in Blue when they host Inter Miami CF II at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 18.

Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman & Aníbal Godoy Called Up Ahead Of 2023 Concacaf Nations League Finals

Aníbal Godoy and Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club in conjunction with the Federations of U.S. Soccer and Panama have announced the additions of defender Walker Zimmerman (United States) and midfielder Aníbal Godoy (Panama) to their respective National Team rosters ahead of the Concacaf Nations League Semifinals.

Zimmerman has become a cornerstone for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) backline, earning 40 caps with 34 starts, while serving as Captain nine times. The centerback made his National Team debut in February of 2017 and has made 29 appearances since 2020.

In 2023, Zimmerman has earned three caps, serving as Captain twice. In 2022, he made 14 appearances, earning a 6W-3L-5D record, nine clean sheets and a Round of 16 appearance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He also made 10 appearances in 2021, leading the United States to an 8W-1L-1D record, with six clean sheets and a 20-6 positive goal differential.       

Godoy is a mainstay on the Panamanian squad, earning 124 caps with 96 starts, while serving as captain 16 times. In 2022, Godoy made 12 appearances for Panama, earning a 4W-3L-5D record and serving as captain seven times. He appeared in five Concacaf World Cup Qualification matches, recording the lone goal in a 5-1 loss to the USMNT.  

Godoy has appeared in three matches in the Concacaf Nations League, recording an assist against Martinique in a 5-0 win on June 10, 2022 and then captaining Panama in their next meeting with Martinique on June 13, 2022. Godoy last appeared with Panama across a series of friendlies in November against Saudi Arabi, Venezuela and Cameroon. 

This season, Godoy leads the team in passing accuracy at 90.5 percent and has anchored the Nashville SC midfield during their eight-match unbeaten streak, recording 75 minutes or more of action in seven of the eight matches. Nashville SC has been dominant with Godoy’s presence, as the club owns a 18W-7L-7D record in his appearances since 2022.

Zimmerman and the USMNT will take on Mexico, while Godoy and the Panama Men’s National Team will face Canada on June 15  at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Kickoff for the Panama Semifinal match is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, while the USA Semifinal match will immediately follow at 9 p.m. CT. Both matches will broadcast live on Paramount+, with the winner from each match advancing to the Concacaf Nations League Final at 7:30 p.m. CT on June 18.

USMNT To Host High-Profile Friendly Match Against Ghana At GEODIS Park

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Men’s National Team

The U.S. Men’s National Team (UMNT) will host Ghana during their first visit to GEODIS Park in a high-profile friendly match on Oct. 17 in preparation for the USA’s quarterfinal games in the Concacaf Nations League.

The match against the Black Stars will be televised on Warner Bros. Discovery platforms, Universo and Peacock starting at 7 p.m. CT, followed by kickoff at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Ghana has twice knocked the United States out of the World Cup (2006, 2010) and will be seeking their first win on U.S. soil in the all-time series.

Just three days prior, the U.S. will play four-time World Cup Champion Germany on Oct. 14 in East Harford, Connecticut. Kickoff from Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field is set for 2 p.m. CT and will also air live on Warner Bros. Discovery platforms, Telemundo and Peacock.

Presales for the match will begin Wednesday, July 5, with public sales beginning on Thursday, July 13.