USMNT Advances To World Cup Knockout Round, Set TV Ratings Record

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of the United States men’s National Team

In a win or go home match in the final round of the World Cup group stage, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) found their way to beat Iran 1-0, punching their ticket to the knock round.

Though the U.S. struggled offensively in their previous games against Wales and England, Chelsea superstar and USA fan favorite Christian Pulisic scored the game-winning and only goal of the match in the 38th minute.

The remainder of the match was extremely tight as Iran only needed a draw to qualify for the next round. However, the USMNT’s defense held strong, especially when Nashville SC star defender Walker Zimmerman was added in the 82nd minute. Zimmerman cleared a handful of Iranian crosses, preventing any offensive momentum for Iran.

The American side finishes second in Group B behind England after drawing their first two matches–1-1 against Wales and 0-0 against England.

Their game against World Cup favorites England was the most anticipated games in the tournament thus far, and the TV ratings numbers say fans tuned in at record numbers. The Black Friday game, broadcasted on Fox, attracted 15.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched men’s soccer match on American English-language television ever, according to Fox Sports.

This breaks the previous record of 14.5 million set by the 1994 final between Italy and Brazil, and surpasses the 13.8 million from the American’s group stage match against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Next, the USMNT will face the Netherlands on Saturday (Dec. 3) at 9 a.m. CT in the round of 16. The U.S. haven’t made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup since 2002.

A Nashvillian’s Guide To The 2022 FIFA World Cup

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

Despite the controversies, doubts and holiday’s looming, it’s hard not to be excited for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Millions of fans from around the world will be tuning in to watch the highly anticipated tournament packed with the sports biggest stars like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and even the USA’s very own Christian Pulisic.

As soccer grows at a rapid rate in Tennessee, and Nashville specifically, here is a little guide for the Nashvillian that isn’t a soccer super fan but really wants to get into the World Cup spirit.


Boys in Gold at the World Cup:

One of the best ways to get into and support the USMNT team in the World Cup is with Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore, both of whom are on the squad. NSC is only one of three clubs to have at least two players on the U.S. roster.

Zimmerman has been such a huge part for both Nashville and the U.S., serving as the backbone for both teams.

With the USMNT, Zimmerman has been instrumental in the team’s Gold Cup win and their qualification for the World Cup. The Georgia native has made 33 caps for the American side while serving as the captain six times.

In this calendar year, Zimmerman has made 10 appearances for the USMNT. He also made 10 appearances in 2021, leading the United States to an 8W-1L-1D record, with six clean sheets and a 20-6 positive goal differential.  

The two-time MLS Defender of the Year is the heart of this team and has gained national recognition for his dedication and leadership.

If you want something directly “Nashville” to support at this World Cup, Zimmerman is the clear choice.


The USMNT Is Ready To Make Some Noise:

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the USMNT is back on the world stage and has a great team to showcase. With young superstars like Pulisic and Ben Sargent, the USA will definitely be a favorite. This U.S. team is, arguably, the most talented to ever play in a FIFA World Cup.

Even in the English Premier League, American players Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson have shown that American soccer is something that shouldn’t be ignored. With Zimmerman leading the defensive squad, the USA will be much fun to watch. However, their road to getting into the knockout stage will not be easy.

They have to play a very tough Wales team in their opening match on Monday (Nov. 21) at 1 p.m. CT, followed by one of the most anticipated matchups in the entire tournament when the USMNT faces England, one of the favorites to win the whole tournament.

The U.S. will play England the day after Thanksgiving at 1 p.m. CT. They finish the group stage against another tough underdog in Iran on Nov. 29.

Many are predicting that the U.S. will finish second in the group, advancing to the knockout stage, but anything can happen at the World Cup.


Final World Cup’s For Super Stars Messi and Ronaldo:

This World Cup could be a historic one as it may well be the final World Cup for super stars like Messi, Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Thomas Müller.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have made comments as to whether this will be their last time in the World Cup, but neither has confirmed or denied.

This will be Bale’s first World Cup appearance as Wales hasn’t qualified for the tournament since 1958. Qatar will most likely be the last time Bale can make some dreams come true.

Müller has been one of the greatest players in Europe for over decade and is arguably the greatest German soccer player ever. The 33-year-old won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and has currently played at the most World Cups among active players.

If you want a storybook ending to support at the World Cup, pulling for Argentina, Portugal or even Wales may be a great option.

Portugal has a great team and won the 2016 European Cup, further solidifying Ronaldo’s legacy. A World Cup win for the 37-year-old would most definitely make him the greatest ever.

Argentina finally won a major tournament in 2021, beating Brazil in the Copa America after losing two Copa America Finals and the 2014 World Cup Final. The 2022 Argentina squad is a heavy favorite to win it all and has its most talented team since 2014. This may be all for Messi to win a World Cup and join the late Diego Maradona as an international winner.

Regardless of who you support, it will most likely be an exciting (and sadly controversial) World Cup.

With the USMNT being a real competitor, and with the hype around Messi and Ronaldo, almost every game will be a must-watch.

With that said, find your favorite sports bar and buckle down for the best tournament in the world.

Apple & MLS Unveil Details For MLS Season Pass, Launches Feb. 1

Apple and Major League Soccer have announced that the MLS Season Pass will launch Feb. 1, 2023, allowing fans across 100 countries and regions access to every live MLS regular-season match, the playoffs, and the Leagues Cup with no blackouts.

Starting Feb. 1, fans can subscribe to MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app, and Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up at a special price. A subscription to MLS Season Pass will be included as part of full-season ticket packages with MLS clubs.

MLS Season Pass will be home to the most expansive and accessible programming lineup ever for MLS fans, including all MLS and Leagues Cup matches, as well as hundreds of MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT games during the season. During match days, MLS Season Pass will feature an exclusive, live match whip-around show, as well as game replays, highlights, and analysis.

“We could not be more excited to bring our fans MLS Season Pass, a new home for all MLS matches and a wide variety of league and club content they can’t get anywhere else,” says Don Garber, MLS’s commissioner. “We have the most engaged and passionate fans in sports, and now they’ll have every match everywhere with MLS Season Pass.”

As previously announced, the MLS 2023 regular season will kick off on Feb. 25. The first home opener to be revealed so far is the 2022 MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC against the LA Galaxy in a historic match at the Rose Bowl Stadium—the first MLS regular-season match to be played there since 2002. All matches during opening weekend will be available to watch for free on the Apple TV app.

“There isn’t a more perfect time to introduce MLS Season Pass, coming off the heels of the most dramatic MLS Cup in history and with MLS as the fastest-growing soccer league in the world,” adds Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Services. “We’re counting down the days to February 2023 when fans everywhere can enjoy MLS Season Pass on billions of devices—all with no blackouts.”

Fans will be able to watch MLS matches featuring English and Spanish broadcast crews, and they can listen to a club’s home radio broadcast on the Apple TV app. All matches involving Canadian teams will also be available in French.

Matches will take place primarily on Saturdays and Wednesdays, with a few matches held on Sundays. For most matches, the start time will be 7:30 p.m. local time, with pregame coverage beginning ahead of the match. Major League Soccer’s complete 2023 schedule will be announced in mid-December.

MLS Season Pass will provide fans with in-depth coverage of their favorite clubs throughout the season, starting with previews of each upcoming match. On match day, fans will have the ability to watch any match from the start, no matter when they tune in. After the final whistle, fans can watch match replays, highlight packages, and more to catch up on anything they missed on and off the pitch.

Additional details about the MLS Season Pass broadcast teams, production enhancements, as well as all the ways fans can enjoy MLS content across the Apple ecosystem, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Nashville SC Drops 2023 Roster, Extends Dax McCarty & Signs Jacob Shaffelburg

Jacob Shaffelburg. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club submitted a list of the contract options that the club exercised ahead of the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

The club has officially executed the transfer of Jacob Shaffelburg, who originally joined the club on loan from Toronto FC in August of 2022. The homegrown midfielder has now re-signed a four-year contract with the Boys in Gold with a one-year option in 2027. In exchange for the transfer, Toronto FC received $250,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM) and $50,000 in conditional GAM.

NSC also extended the contract of captain Dax McCarty, who will return to Nashville SC in 2023 for his 19th season in Major League Soccer.

Nashville SC picked up contract options on the following players: Josh Bauer, Luke Haakenson, Ahmed Longmire, Jack Maher, Elliot Panicco, Fafà Picault, Shaffelburg, Taylor Washington and Joe Willis.

The club declined the contract options on Robert CastellanosIrakoze Donasiyano, Bryan Meredith and Will Meyer.

Eric Miller, a nine-year MLS veteran, has joined the Free Agency process.

NSC had a historic season in 2022 with opening of GEODIS Park, clinching the playoffs for a third straight season and seeing Hany Mukhtar win the league MVP and Golden Boot. The club also made major moves to push the team to further success with the additions of Shaffelburg and Shaq Moore. Both Shaffelburg and Moore will be players to watch as they are set to play a full season with the Boys in Gold in 2023.

Nashville SC’s 2023 roster as of Nov. 15 is below:

Goalkeepers: Joe Willis, Elliot Panicco

Defenders: Josh Bauer, Ahmed Longmire, Dan Lovitz, Jack Maher, Shaq Moore, Dave Romney, Taylor Washington, Walker Zimmerman

Midfielders: Handwalla Bwana, Tah Brian Anunga, Sean Davis, Aníbal Godoy, Luke Haakenson, Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar, Alex Muyl, Fafà Picault, Jacob Shaffelburg

Forwards: Teal Bunbury, Aké Loba, Rodrigo Piñeiro, CJ Sapong, Ethan Zubak

Nashville SC Defenders Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore Head To World Cup With USMNT

Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore. Photos: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC defenders Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore have been called up by the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) to play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this month.

Both players join 26 fellow countryman on the USA roster set to play on the world’s biggest stage. Moore and Zimmerman are the first players in club history to play in a World Cup.

“We are excited to take this group to compete in the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” says USA head coach Gregg Berhalter. “Final roster decisions are always difficult, and we appreciate everyone’s contributions who helped us get to this point. We believe we have a talented group, a strong team spirit, and one that is ready to compete. We are extremely proud and honored to represent the United States and appreciate all the amazing support from our fans as we head to Qatar.”

Zimmerman has become a mainstay for the USMNT, making 33 caps for the side while serving as the captain six times. In this calendar year, Zimmerman has made 10 appearances for the USMNT. He also made 10 appearances in 2021, leading the United States to an 8W-1L-1D record, with six clean sheets and a 20-6 positive goal differential.    

The two-time MLS Defender of the Year was crucial in the USMNT’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, captaining the States and appearing in 10 qualifying matches. The club and country captain owned a 6W-2L-2D record, five clean sheets and a goal-differential of +10 in route to clinching a spot in Qatar 2022.    

Moore has earned 15 caps for the red, white and blue following his debut on June 2, 2018, in a friendly against Ireland. The defender scored his first international goal on July 18, 2021 in the first minute of play against Canada in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, putting the USMNT in first place going into the knockout stage of the competition.   

In the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, Moore appeared in all six matches, including a 55-minute shift against Mexico that saw the United States defeat El Tri 1-0 in extra time to win the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. In his most recent international caps, Moore appeared in four matches at right back in the USA’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification to Qatar.   

Moore joined Nashville SC this summer via a transfer and appeared in 11 matches for the Boys in Gold while registering three assists and solidifying the right side of the defense to an MLS Cup Playoff clinching berth.

The FIFA World Cup kicks off on Nov. 20, and the USMNT will open up play against Wales on Nov. 21. They will then face England on Friday, Nov. 25 and finish the Group Stage against Iran on Nov. 29.

All three of the USMNT’s group stage matches will kick off at 1 p.m. CT live on FOX and Telemundo.

Nashville SC Adds Fabrice-Jean ‘Fafà’ Picault, Trades For GAM & Pick In 2023 MLS SuperDraft

Nashville SC is making offseason moves before Thursday’s (Nov. 10) trade window closes. The team has acquired General Allocation Money (GAM), a pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft and traded for Houston Dynamo winger Fabrice-Jean “Fafà” Picault.

The club picked up Picault in exchange for $50,000 of its 2023 GAM, $50,000 of 2024 GAM and up to a conditional $150,000 in 2024 GAM if certain performance metrics are achieved.

Picault is coming off a two-year stretch in which the winger ranked seventh in MLS for most combined goals and assists since 2021 in his position, recording 18 goals and eight assists across the 2021-22 seasons. The 31-year-old is also ranked fourth in MLS wingers in 2021 with most goals scored.

After spending most of his senior career overseas, the native New Yorker joined MLS in 2017, making 168 MLS regular season appearances ,and amassing 42 goals and 22 assists. The speedster had a career-year in his first season in Houston, scoring a personal best 11 goals while tying his career-high in assists with five.

Prior to his arrival in MLS, Picault played in Europe from 2014 through 2017. He originally made the move to Czech First-Division AC Sparta Prague and then moved to FC St. Pauli in Germany where he contributed seven goals in 22 appearances.

Before the move for Picault, Nashville SC made a move to acquire $725,000 in 2023 GAM and a natural second-round pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft in exchange for four international spots.

Here are the details of the move:

  • $200,000 in GAM from St. Louis City SC
  • $175,000 in GAM and a natural second-round pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, presented by adidas, from Chicago Fire FC
  • $175,000 in GAM from FC Dallas
  • $175,000 in GAM from Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman Named To 2022 MLS Best XI

Nashville SC Designated Players Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman have been named to the MLS’ 2022 Best XI, presented by Continental Tire.

This comes just one day after Mukhtar was named the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player.

The MLS Best XI is a collection of elite performers from the 2022 MLS regular season and one of the most prestigious annual honors a player can receive. The Best XI recognizes the league’s top players at each position as determined by media, MLS players, and MLS club technical staffs.

Mukhtar has had a season for the history books, winning the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi after scoring 23 goals this season. He also became the first German born player to earn both the Golden Boot and MVP.

With 34 goal contributions in 2022 (23 goals, 11 assists), Mukhtar was the first player to lead the league in consecutive seasons since Sebastian Giovinco (2015-16). The 27-year-old scored or assisted in a sensational 65.4% of Nashville’s goals in 2022, which was the most by a single player in MLS this season.

The MVP’s 62 combined goals and assists from 2021-22 are the fifth most over a two-year span in MLS history. Since the start of 2021, Mukhtar’s 62 combined goals and assists are 16 more than the next-closest player (FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta).

The German had a historic month of August, becoming just the fourth player in MLS history to total at least 12 goal contributions (8 goals, 4 assists) in a single calendar month and was named the MLS Player of the Month as he added Team of the Week awards in Weeks 28 and 29 that month alone. Mukhtar has been named MLS Player of the Week six times since joining MLS in 2020, the most in MLS in that span.

This is Mukhtar’s second consecutive time being named to the MLS Best XI.

Zimmerman joins the MLS Best XI squad yet again after anchoring a Nashville SC backline that conceded the fourth-fewest goals in MLS this season (41) and the fewest road goals allowed in the league (20).

The two-time MLS Defender of the Year becomes the fifth player in MLS history to be named to the Best XI in four consecutive seasons, joining Chris Armas (1998-2001), Landon Donovan (2008-12), Marco Etcheverry (1996-99), and Robbie Keane (2012-15).

Zimmerman’s four MLS Best XI selections are the most among active MLS players, while being tied for fifth all-time.

Hany Mukhtar Named Landon Donovan MVP Award Winner

After months of hype, campaigning and anticipation, it is now a reality. Nashville SC superstar and Designated Player Hany Mukhtar has been named the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player after winning the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi during his record-breaking season.

Mukhtar led Major League Soccer with 34 goal contributions (23 goals, 11 assists) in 2022, which was tied for the fifth most in a single season in MLS history. Mukhtar scored or assisted on an incredible 65.4 percent of Nashville SC’s goals in 2022, which was the most by a single player in MLS this season. The midfielder’s sensational season helped Nashville finish fifth in the Western Conference and earn a berth in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Hany Mukhtar being award the league MVP by MLS President Mark Abbott. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Mukhtar recorded 21 goals and seven assists in his final 22 games of the season, which culminated in a league-high 11 goals since the start of August. The German playmaker had a historic month in August, becoming just the fourth player in MLS history to total at least 12 goal contributions (8 goals, 4 assists) in a single calendar month. With Nashville fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch of the season, Mukhtar recorded 10 combined goals and assists as part of Nashville’s club-record, four game winning streak from Aug. 21 to Sept. 3.

In addition to the MLS MVP award, Mukhtar has earned a plethora of accolades since arriving to MLS in 2020, including one MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire selection (2021), the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi, one MLS Player of the Month award (August 2022), and six MLS Player of the Week presented by Continental Tire honors.

Mukhtar becomes the first German-born player and the first in Nashville SC history to be named Landon Donovan MLS MVP. He is also the sixth European-born player to win the award since 2000 and the third consecutive after Carles Gil in 2021 and Alejandro Pozuelo in 2020.

He also becomes the fourth player in the last decade to win the Most Valuable Player award and the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi in the same season.

The Nashville SC playmaker was the first player to lead the league in goal contributions in consecutive seasons since Sebastian Giovinco from 2015-16. Mukhtar’s 62 combined goals and assists from 2021-22 are the fifth most over a two-year span in MLS history. Since the start of 2021, Mukhtar’s 62 combined goals and assists are 16 more than the next-closest player (FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta, 46).

Pictured (L-R): Nashville SC owner John Ingram and Hany Mukhtar. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Mukhtar won 48 percent of all ballots in the MVP race, including a whopping 78 percent of the media vote.

Mukhtar finished ahead of Austin FC forward Sebastián Driussi and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake to take home the award. LA Galaxy forward Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández and LAFC forward Cristian ‘Chicho’ Arango were fourth and fifth in the final voting results, respectively.

The Landon Donovan MLS MVP award has been presented since 1996 to the individual determined by a poll of players, club technical staff and the media to be the most valuable to his club.