Randall Leal badly needed a bounce back season in 2023. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Injury and inconsistency hampered his season, leaving lingering questions about his long-term future with Nashville SC to be answered.
Previous report cards:
Randall Leal 2023 Grade: D
2023 by the numbers
Matches played: 25 (15th on Nashville SC)
Minutes played: 1,454 (15th on Nashville SC)
Goals: 3 (7th on Nashville SC)
Goal contributions per 96 minutes: 0.20 (11th on Nashville SC)
2023 in review
Injuries were the story of Leal’s 2023 campaign. After starting the season brightly as the no. 10 in Nashville’s season opening win against New York City FC, Leal picked up an injury in training that kept him out of action for the next 11 matches. In total, Leal missed 18 matches with injury (including the entirety of the Leagues Cup run), and played just 32% of potential minutes in 2023.
When Leal played, he had moments that reminded Nashville fans of the player he was in 2021, but he never got enough time on the field to shake off the rust he developed over a stop-start two seasons. It certainly wasn’t enough to justify his price tag; the former Young DP is the fourth-highest paid player on the squad.
Nashville looked better when Leal was on the field. Unfortunately, he wasn’t on the field nearly enough.
Leal’s contract was extended following the 2021 season, and he’s been one of the key pieces for Nashville SC in years past. Nashville have also invested heavily in him, both in his transfer fee and salary, and don’t have much incentive to let him walk. All signs point to him returning in 2024.
Nashville likely would be open to moving Leal on if the right trade or transfer offer were to materialize, but they’d be just as happy to have him back in 2024 if they can work through the persistent injury issues he’s suffered over the last two seasons. Either way, Nashville need to invest in a similar profile of player who can provide cover for Leal when he misses time.
Moment of the season
Leal scored two-thirds of his 2023 output in one game. His brace at Geodis Park secured a 2-0 win over D.C. United and earned himself an MLS Player of the Matchday nod in the process.