Nashville SC have a good chance at victory against the host Columbus Crew on Wednesday if midfielder Hany Mukhtar scores for a third straight match.
Following Mukhtar's historic hat trick against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, Nashville (5-1-7, 22 points) has not lost in the eight games (5-0-3) that he has at least one goal in the past two seasons.
Mukhtar scored in the 10th, 13th and 16th minutes in the 5-1 win vs. the Fire for the fastest hat trick from the start of a match in MLS history. The goals in a six-minute span were the second-fastest ever, trailing only a five-minute hat trick by Harut Karapetyan of the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 4, 1998.
"I like to score, and I like to help the team this way," Mukhtar said. "Of course, I can give us assists, but I'm a very attacking midfield player."
Mukhtar, who scored four goals in 15 games last season, is tied for third in the league with seven and is a big reason that Nashville is on a 3-0-2 run.
Columbus (5-3-5, 20 points) has a record breaker of its own in midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. His free kick goal in the 62nd minute was the difference in a 2-1 win against New York City FC on Saturday.
He set a team record with his fourth free-kick goal of the season, a number that ties David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy (2012) for third in MLS history.
Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco scored six such goals in 2017 and five in 2015.
"Lucas is the best player in the league, at least one of them. He's up there," Crew coach Caleb Porter said.
He also praised goalkeeper Eloy Room, who made a season-high six saves to beat NYCFC despite the Crew missing 12 players due to international call-ups, injuries or suspension.
"I think Eloy Room is the best goalkeeper in the league," Porter said. "I wouldn't trade him for anybody."
--Field Level Media