The scoreline wasn't kind to Nashville in the slightest, even if two of their goals came via penalty kicks. They could've had even more, and they were the better side throughout the contest.
Chicago, meanwhile, never got going, and this was simply another woeful away day for them. Something has to change, and it has to change soon. Or maybe it doesn't. The Fire are irrelevant anyway.
Story of the match
The start of this contest was a very uneventful one. Chicago kept plenty of bodies back, and Nashville struggled early on, even if they had most of the ball.
A major chance finally came 10 minutes before the break. The away side botched a clearance, and it fell right to Daniel Lovitz as a result. He took a quick shot, and it had plenty of power behind it, but Chris Brady was still able to deny the effort.
There was one more highlight before the end of the first half as Nashville were given a penalty in stoppage time. Dax McCarty was tackled in the area by Federico Navarro, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Hany Mukhtar stepped up to the challenge, and he calmly converted the spot-kick.
Chicago carved out an opening of their own minutes into the 2nd half. Brian Gutiérrez settled the ball, cut inside, and rifled a low shot towards goal, but his attempt went wide of the near post.
Utter chaos took place at the hour mark, as a game of pinball broke out in the Fire’s penalty area. They couldn’t deal with a corner, and every blocked shot fell right back to another Nashville player, only for their shot to be blocked as well. After what felt like forever, the ball eventually bounced out of play.
The hosts had a clear opportunity from the following corner. A looping cross was brought down by Alex Muyl, but he couldn’t keep his volley on target, instead blasting it well over the crossbar.
They had another chance five minutes later, and it really should have been 2-0. Mukhtar broke free on the counter, and it seemed like he was set to score after cutting inside and blowing by his marker. He bottled the finish, though, hitting a weak strike right at the goalkeeper.
It proved to be third time lucky for Nashville as they finally grabbed a second goal soon after. They were awarded another penalty, and this one was also quite clear since Kendall Burks took out Jacob Shaffelburg. Mukhtar stepped up once again, and he buried the spot-kick once again.
Their superstar would complete his hat-trick before the night was over. Fafà Picault snuck past the opposition backline, and even though his attempt was saved, Mukhtar was at the right place at the right time to pounce on the rebound.
That was the end of the action, wrapping up the contest in style for the hosts.
Did the Fire prioritize their Open Cup game on Tuesday over this MLS matchup? That must be why they named such a strange lineup. I’m not a fan of the decision. Surely most of the team’s starters can handle an extra game during the week without getting too gassed.
It was a bit cruel to have this game start at the same time as Lakers vs Warriors.
Why in the world is Kacper Przybyłko ahead of Georgios Koutsias in the pecking order at striker? Przybyłko was the one who led the line, and he got to stay on the pitch at halftime while Koutsias was subbed off. Fans already know that the former isn’t good enough, and that the latter is someone who the club should be trying to develop.
Does Chicago know that Xherdan Shaqiri is a winger?
Does Chicago know that Brian Gutiérrez is an attacking midfielder?
The Fire were dealt a heavy blow when Rafael Czichos was forced off early on, to be fair. They were already without Carlos Terán, and even though Wyatt Omsberg and Kendall Burks are good on their own, they do not work as a pairing at this level.
It was still not good enough in the slightest from them. They didn't even look like they wanted to win this game. They never even really tried.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Chicago let go of head coach Ezra Hendrickson sometime soon.
Nashville’s counter attack is spectacular to watch. Mukhtar, Shaffelburg, and Teal Bunbury are all rapid, and they know when to drive forward with the ball and when to find a teammate with it.
I did not think Nashville would have such an electric fanbase, and it turns out I was very, very wrong.
Man of the match - Hany Mukhtar
This wasn't the greatest performance of Hany Mukhtar's career, but he was still able to bring home the match ball when the night was done. Sure, two of his goals came via penalties, and the other was a late rebound, but that won't matter to him or his team at all.
He still had plenty of work to do. He confidently slotted home both spot-kicks. He kept running at the end of the contest, and his efforts were rewarded when a rebound fell right to him The German’s impact went beyond the scoresheet as well, as he was crucial in a few counter attacking moves, and he was a threat throughout.
Mukhtar may not have been the biggest name to join MLS, but he might be one of the best DP signings in recent history.