Two Most Valuable Player candidates for Nashville SC and Austin FC traded goals in a 1-1 draw Saturday night in Austin, Texas.
Sebastian Driussi salvaged the draw for Austin (16-9-7, 55 points) with a 61st-minute goal off a corner kick.
Second-half substitute Diego Fagundez launched his corner towards the back post as Moussa Djitte rose to meet it. Driussi's cover went to Djitte, and the ball fell to Driussi all alone. He took two touches to close on goalkeeper Joe Willis then calmly poked it into the top of the net to equalize.
Hany Mukhtar opened the scoring for Nashville (12-9-11, 47 points) in the 56th minute, less than 10 minutes after he earned a penalty. Just moments earlier, it appeared that Austin would take the lead but Dan Lovitz cleared Jhohan Romana's header off the line.
In the ensuing scramble, Nashville launched the ball onto an onrushing Mukhtar. Austin's Jon Gallagher kept pace with Mukhtar the entire way down the field, but once Mukhtar made it into the box, he fooled Gallagher, who brought him down for the penalty.
Mukhtar went low and to the left of goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who guessed correctly, but the shot went past the goalkeeper's glove. Stuver finished the night without a save, thanks in part to his defense.
Both teams pushed hard for the winning goal late in the second half. Austin had a golden chance when Driussi and Djitte forced a turnover deep in Nashville's third with their press and Djitte got to the top of the box before unleashing a hard shot.
However, it went straight into the chest of Willis, who held on. That was Willis' lone save in the match, which was his 200th career appearance and 197th start.
Neither Austin FC nor Nashville SC could score on free kicks late in stoppage time.
Neither team could break through in the first half despite some quality opportunities for both.
Despite neither team managing a shot through the first 20 minutes, Nashville was able to generate pressure on Stuver with four shots in the final 25 minutes. However, Stuver was able to keep the ball out of the back of his net.
--Field Level Media