As one of two remaining unbeaten teams — the other being first-place Seattle — Nashville have a high ceiling of potential. The team seems to find a way to grind out a draw when they are getting played off the field, but the alternative is also true. At least two of Nashville’s five draws should have seen all three points go their way. Regardless of some disappointing early-season results, Gary Smith and the boys should expect a better finish than the conference semi’s this season.
Here are three reasons Nashville can — and should — compete for the MLS Cup.
1. Mukhtar actually wants it
When Hany Mukhtar signed as a DP, his role as a no. 10 was supposed to translate into an innumerable number of assists. Those never came. In terms of goal involvement, Mukhtar finished with just four goals and three assists last season, and for a keynote signing in a team that fought deep into the playoffs, those production numbers were poor.
This season, Mukhtar already has three goals, and his production comes from his movement into the final third. Instead of riding the space behind the strikers, like he did last year, Mukhtar is bringing the ball forward himself. He is currently 17th in MLS in terms of most dribbles into the final third for midfielders. And that production is already more than double what he produced last season per 90 minutes.