Hany Mukhtar flexes MVP status by giving Atlanta United nightmares


Hany Mukhtar loves making Atlanta United pay.

That was apparent again Saturday afternoon at GEODIS Park, as the German star put on a counter-attacking clinic with two assists – while setting up a third goal – in Nashville SC’s 3-1 win over the Five Stripes.

Now, the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP has 13 goal contributions (6g/7a) in nine matches across all competitions against their Southeast rival and has recorded a goal or assist in seven consecutive matchups since September 2020.

Even though Mukhtar didn’t score for Nashville during Matchday 10, he’ll take the three-point trade-off.

"I think it's important this year to also help the other guys to create chances, to create spots to score goals, to give them confidence," said the 28-year-old. "I think, in general, I can score goals, but I think it's also important to help the team with assists, with being creative, with putting the guys in action."

Mukhtar added: "It's an amazing feeling to score a goal in front of your own fans. But, in the end, if we win and I give every game two, three assists, I would sign that today. But, like I said, I will continue scoring goals, and I'm not worried about that."

After a slower start to 2023, at least by his dominant standards, Mukhtar now has 3g/5a in 10 games. This follows an astounding 23g/11a in 33 games last year while emerging as the league’s premier final-third threat, operating in the space between a playmaker and an out-and-out striker.

Add it all up and Mukhtar has scored or assisted on 42 of Nashville’s 63 goals (66.7%) since the beginning of 2022 – the highest percentage in MLS. That dependency can be both a blessing and a curse, a dynamic Mukhtar turns into personal responsibility.

"For me, it’s important that the stability in the team is there," Mukhtar said. "If the team is struggling a lot, it’s also difficult for me. Of course, I try to push up the team and bring them to the next level, but I think it’s also very important for me to have a very consistent and strong base. I think from that base, when we play a decent half, then I can show my quality."

With Mukhtar rounding into form – he’s scored or assisted in four of Nashville’s last five games – the Coyotes are gradually climbing up the Eastern Conference table.

The most important thing, in Mukhtar’s eyes, is building off a strong performance next Saturday when hosting Chicago Fire FC (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). That’ll cap a three-game home stretch, where they also drew 1-1 with reigning MLS Cup champions and Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC last weekend.

"It’s our home," Mukhtar declared. "We needed to show we can compete with these teams and not only compete, but win against these teams. We did a good job. We scored the goals at the right time and that’s football. We have to keep going."