Hany Mukhtar is Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
This time a year ago, Hany Mukhtar was competing with New England's Charles Gil for the 2021 MVP award. Gil was the eventual winner which surprised many but was used as further motivation by Mukhtar.
Gil was a deserving winner due to his importance to New England's attack and constant key passes. However, this season, the award has much less room for debate.
Statistically and otherwise, Mukhtar is the league's most valuable player. Here are the last 5 Landon Donovan MVP Award Winners compared to Mukhtar's 2022 campaign:
Mukhtar's numbers compared to recent MVP winners are not terribly notable. Compared to 2022 candidates, though, Mukhtar stacks up very well.
Shots On Target
Mukhtar's 34 goals + assists this season is more than anyone in the league. This total accurately represents his importance to Nashville and while other players are close statistically, Nashville's reliance on Mukhtar is unmatched.
While Mukhtar's 2021 season was very good, 2022 took it to the next level. He recorded an additional 32 shots and 7 goals in 300 additional minutes. He averaged a goal every 89 minutes and was responsible for an astounding 45% of Nashville's goals this season.
When Mukhtar scored, Nashville was 9-5-4 this season and from the eye test, Nashville looks stale when Mukhtar is not actively involved.
In addition to the numbers, Mukhtar's intangible importance to Nashville is equally as significant. Much like Derrick Henry with the Titans, the team is simply not the same without him and greatly lacks creativity.
Despite injuries to other attackers and decreased production from CJ Sapong and Randall Leal, Mukhtar picked up the slack. At many points in the season, especially in Nashville's rough July stretch, he was the team's sole source of attack and the team was exceptionally reliant on him to singlehandedly generate chances.
Undoubtedly, there was no player in the league more valuable during that time.
A positional change early in the season was a key factor in Mukhtar's success. Nashville's change to 4 defenders in the back allowed for a rearranging of the midfield, thus allowing Mukhtar to play further up the field.
While the counterattacking play that defined 2021 was not Nashville's main source of attack, Mukhtar's change to somewhat of a 2nd striker allowed him to make attacking runs off of other attackers much like in 2021.
Still, though, many of the attacks were engineered from Mukhtar's ball control and vision. The most insightful through balls of the season came from Mukhtar when he collected the ball around mid-field, used his control to get into the attacking third, and drew in defenders because he is so dangerous with the ball.
Also important to his success is his personal mentality.
Mukhtar was the 2022 MLS Golden Boot winner after narrowly beating Austin's Sebastian Driussi by just a goal but is aiming bigger. Mukhtar said that the MVP is a greater honor and it is something he has been continuously chasing.
Still, he does a good job of not playing selfishly. It is clear that Mukhtar is not in it for the stats but rather for the team's success.
Since Nashville signed him as their first designated player in August of 2020, he has scored 47 goals for the club and has solidified himself as one of the best signings in MLS history.
The 2022 MVP award will be announced the week of the 2022 MLS Cup in early November.
Really, it would be disrespectful if Mukhtar is not awarded 2022 MVP. In 2021, I understood the argument for Gil but this season, anyone but Mukhtar winning the award would be shocking.