Randall Leal: 2023 report card

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:

Joe Willis (A-) | Dan Lovitz (A) | Lukas MacNaughton (A) | Jack Maher (A-) | Dax McCarty (B+) | Fafà Picault (A)

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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)
Assists: 0
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.

Looking forward

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.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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