NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hany Mukhtar had two goals to take over the Major League Soccer lead in a matchup of top scorers and lead Nashville to a lightning-delayed 3-0 victory Saturday night that prevented Austin from clinching a playoff berth.
Mukhtar increased his season league goals total to 21, moving one ahead of Austin's Sebastián Driussi.
With a win, Austin (15-8-6) would have become the third team to clinch a playoff berth after Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia and Western Conference leader Los Angeles FC.
Kickoff was delayed 50 minutes because of lightning in the area.
Walker Zimmerman, preparing for a likely spot on the U.S. World Cup roster, put Nashville ahead in the 49th minute, beating goalkeeper Brad Stuver with a 4-yard header from Daniel Lovitz's corner kick. It was the third goal of the season for the 29-year-old center back, who also scored on a header from Mukhtar's free kick against Salt Lake on March 19 and a header off a Mukhar's corner kick against Toronto on Aug. 6.
Mukhtar beat Stuvar to the far post with a right foot shot from 12 yards in the 82nd after Ruben Gabrielsen gave away the ball to Alex Muyl about 25 yards from his own goal.
Mukhtar's final goal for Nashville (12-9-9) came in the first minute of second-half stoppage time after Dax McCarty played a pass from just outside his own penalty area down the right flank. Shaq Moore, who joined Nashville from Tenerife in July, ran onto the ball, took two touches and crossed to an open Mukhtar, who tapped the ball in from just outside the 6-yard box.
Nashville outshot Austin 12-11, including 7-6 in shots on goal.
Joe Willis saved three shots for Nashville and Stuver two for Austin.
These teams take to the field again Sept. 10, with Nashville hosting the LA Galaxy while Austin visits the Seattle Sounders.
The Associated Press