Two leaders in the race for the MLS Golden Boot go head-to-head Saturday when Nashville SC visit Atlanta United.
Atlanta’s Giorgos Giakoumakis enters with 12 goals, coming off a two-goal performance in his club’s last showing, a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar leads MLS with 13.
Both clubs also are in the thick of a playoff race.
Tied on points, Atlanta (10-7-8, 38 points) and Nashville (11-8-5, 38 points) hold the sixth and seventh positions in the Eastern Conference. The United have played an additional match, while Nashville is coming off a lengthy run in the inaugural Leagues Cup competition.
Nashville also looks to defend the Southern Championship Belt, an honor contested throughout the season between Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte FC and D.C. United. In league play, Nashville has lost its last three matches.
“It’s in all our heads that it’s a rivalry game, but we’re going to approach it like it’s any other match,” Nashville midfielder Jacob Shaffelburg said. “We’re going into it with the same mindset to go down there, get three points, and come back home.”
The match could see an Atlanta debut for recent winger signing Saba Lobjanidze, who joins the club from Turkish side Hatayspor through 2026. Tristan Muyumba and Xande Silva also could see the home pitch for the first time after making their debuts last match in Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Seattle.
“One thing is their own attributes and characteristics, and the other is how the team integrates them,” United head coach Gonzalo Pineda told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the new additions. “Both (Muyumba and Silva) aren’t 100 percent physically … but it’s impressive that those two are already impactful players.”
Nashville won the first meeting this season 3-1 at home on April 29. Mukhtar delivered two assists and Fafa Picault, Teal Bunbury and Shaffelburg found the net for Nashville. Thiago Almada converted a penalty for Atlanta.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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