Head coach Gary Smith confirmed to media on Friday that Randall Leal has suffered another hamstring injury.
The midfielder had left preseason training camp to play for Costa Rica in their friendly match against El Salvador, but was injured in training and returned to Nashville, where he’ll undergo more assessment.
Leal, 27, was signed as a Young Designated Player in 2019, one of Nashville’s marquee signings heading into their expansion season. Initially, Leal was a top performer for the Coyotes, wracking up 12 goals and 13 assists across 4,247 minutes in his first two seasons in MLS and missing just two matches with injury.
Since then, though, injuries have shuttered his progress. In 2022 and 2023, he was productive when healthy, with five goals and seven assists. He’s rarely been healthy, though, managing just 3,378 minutes. He’s missed 25 matches in that stretch (18 in 2023), a major loss for an attack that has been desperate for more creativity and production.
“He’s got to be able to go from being a young kid to being a veteran. And that’s not just like an age, but that’s just like a maturity level as far as taking care of yourself, doing things you have to do on and off the field to make sure that you’re available for selection whenever you’re called on,” General Manager Mike Jacobs told Speedway Soccer last month. “A healthy Randall is someone who can still contribute an awful lot for our group.”
Costa Rica manager Gustavo Alfaro spoke about Leal’s injury history yesterday. “He had four muscle elections throughout the year, in the previous year,” he said (via translation). “So, when you analyze the reports, the boy does not do the preventives and does not do the preventives to a player who is prone to muscle tension when we had taken care of him during the week. It’s a risk.”
“If I’m hearing it right, it’s a hamstring problem again,” said Smith, following a 2-1 preseason loss to Toronto FC. “It’s hugely disappointing for Randall. He was fit when he left. He played minutes for us and preseason and looked bright.”
Nashville kick off their 2024 campaign in just 20 days. With Leal potentially set for another spell on the sideline, their attack is once again shorthanded.