Hany Mukhtar has scored more than 50 goals in three years with Nashville SC. More than half of those goals have come this season, making the forward the frontrunner for the 2022 MLS Golden Boot.
But is Mukhtar's 23 goals and 11 assists in 32 games enough to crown him league MVP?
The Major League Soccer regular season ends Sunday. Nashville will travel cross country to face Los Angeles FC (4 p.m., MyTV30) and Mukhtar has a two-goal lead ahead of Austin FC's Sebastian Driussi, who is also Mukhtar's competition for the Landon Donovan MVP award. Driussi has posted 21 goals and seven assists in 33 games during Austin's second year in MLS. In the two head-to-head matchups between Austin and Nashville (Sept. 3, 17), Mukhtar outscored Driussi, 3-1.
Other candidates may receive votes prior to the Oct. 10, 4 p.m. deadline, but the MVP race comes down to Mukhtar and Driussi.
Here's a breakdown of Mukhtar and Driussi's cases for MVP:
Mukhtar or Driussi for MVP?
Sebastian Driussi, Austin FC
Driussi's 2022 is best described as effortless.
The 26-year-old Argentine scored or assisted goals for Austin in 11 straight games between July 4 and Aug. 31, which tied for the third-longest, single-season streak in MLS history.
According to Football Reference, Driussi averages 0.68 goals per 90 minutes, despite his expected goals (xG), measuring the likelihood of scoring by quality of chance, sitting at just 0.46 per 90 minutes. The stats rank in the 97th and 96th percentile among forwards.
Driussi's goal contribution streak epitomized the forward's coming out party for No. 2 seed Austin in the upcoming playoffs after Driussi scored just five goals and five assists in his and Austin's first year in the league in 2021. Austin finished 12th in the West last season and missed the playoffs. This year, Austin ranks third (64) in goals scored and second (69) in assists.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 2, 2022
Hany Mukhtar, Nashville SC
Mukhtar has scored Nashville's way into the MLS Cup Playoffs for its third consecutive season. Literally.
Nashville has 51 goals in 33 games, which means Mukhtar's scoring accounts for 45% of Nashville's output. His 23 goals and 11 assists mean 34 total goal contributions, which is tied for the fifth-most ever in a single season.
"And if you break down what the Most Valuable Player Award means, I think it's a guy who's absolutely irreplaceable on his team," captain and 17-year veteran Dax McCarty said about Mukhtar "And I don't think anyone's going to sit up here and argue that this guy's not irreplaceable for us."
His first of two goals on Sept. 3 in a 3-0 win over Austin meant Mukhtar became just the fifth player in league history to record 20 goals and 10 assists in a season. Three of the previous four to do so went on to win MVP (Carlos Vela, 2019; Diego Valeri, 2017; Sebastian Giovinco, 2015).
Mukhtar's 2022 stat line places him in the top five in the main individual attacking categories: goals (1st), assists (tied for 5th) and key passes (3rd), which records the final pass before a shot on goal without scoring. And according to Football Reference, Mukhtar ranks in the 84th percentile or above among forwards in goals, assists, shots on target, expected goals and key passes.
For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Hany Mukhtar, Sebastian Driussi racing to Golden Boot title, MLS MVP.