Nashville SC dominates New York City FC, 2-0, in 2023 season opener

Nashville SC dominates New York City FC, 2-0, in 2023 season opener

Updated: 22 days, 17 hours, 57 minutes, 40 seconds ago

Nashville SC dominates New York City FC, 2-0, in 2023 season opener

Nashville SC claims second straight victory in a MLS season

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The origin of Nashville SC's 'Man in Black' Johnny Cash uniforms

Nashville SC's "Man In Black" Johnny Cash uniforms were unveiled by the MLS club on Friday. Here's how they came to be.

Nicole Hester, Nashville Tennessean

The reigning Major League Soccer MVP plays for Nashville SC and for most of Saturday's 2023 season opener, it didn't need him.

Hany Mukhtar eventually entered the game in the 75th minute of Nashville's win over New York City FC at Geodis Park with a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, he assisted winger Jacob Shaffelburg's goal that sealed a 2-0 win.

Center back and captain Walker Zimmerman scored the opening goal in the 34th minute. Nashville is now 2-1-1 in its MLS season openers.

Here's the three best takeaways from the game:

Three takeaways

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Attack thrives without Mukhtar

Nashville were sharp in attack without Mukhtar (hip). Center forward Teal Bunbury, wingers Fafa Picault and Shaffelburg, as well as Randall Leal were involved in both Nashville goals.

"If we look at the two wide players — and Randall we've already spoken about him at length — hugely influential," Nashville coach Gary Smith said. "But I thought Teal's hold-up play (was too)."

Fafa Picault strong debut

Picault assisted on Zimmerman's goal in his Nashville debut, after being traded from Houston Dynamo FC in November. Smith said Picault and Shaq Moore's "creation" on the right flank presented a skill Nashville didn't have in 2022.

'Man in Black" jerseys inspire blackout

Nashville debuted its "Man in Black" jerseys, dedicated to Johnny Cash. It inspired much of the 28,051 in attendance to wear all black in honor of Cash, whose birthday would've been Sunday.

Picault's birthday was Friday. He said Nashville's win, his assist and the Cash aura was the perfect debut combo.

"To come out here tonight, the new jerseys, new hype and in the first game of the season, it was an amazing feeling," he said.

Nashville SC score vs. NYCFC: Live updates

Final: Nashville SC 2, New York City FC 0

80th minute - Goal

Jacob Shaffelburg slices the ball passed NYCFC goalkeeper Luis Barraza to seal the win. Hany Mukhtar records an assist.

78th minute

NYCFC forward Kevin O'Toole rips a shot from 30 yards and forces Joe Willis to punch the ball over the goal.

34th minute - Goal

Nashville center back and captain Walker Zimmerman scores inside the 18-yard box. Randall Leal's indirect free kick is initially cleared, albeit poorly by Maxime Chanot. Fafa Picault heads the ball back to Zimmerman for the strike.

31st minute

Nashville forward Teal Bunbury's deflected shot forces NYCFC goalkeeper Luis Barraza to punch the ball over the net.

11th minute

NYCFC forward Talles Magno strikes the ball 20 yards from goal, skidding the crossbar and escaping Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis.

5th minute

Nashville winger Jacob Shaffelburg strikes the ball 15 yards from goal but goalkeeper Luis Barraza extends his left leg to make the save.

(3:55 p.m.) 1st minute

The Backline Supporters Collective, which represents the seven supporters groups of Nashville SC, raises a Hany Mukhtar "Man in Black," tifo, or banner, paying tribute to music icon Johnny Cash.

For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.