Recap: Leal brace breaks Nashville losing streak

NASHVILLE, TN – A brace from Randall Leal gave Nashville SC a 2-0 win over DC United on Saturday night, after the Coyotes lost a pair of road matches last week.

The XI

After heavy rotation last week, as well as the use of a back five, head coach Gary Smith moved back to the midfield diamond shape that has seen Nashville at their best in 2023.

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On the pitch

Nashville thought they had opened the scoring early, with Randall Leal’s left-footed strike finding the net from distance. Hany Mukhtar, though, was adjudged to be offside in the buildup.

15 minutes later, Leal scored again, and this time it counted. Mukhtar picked out the Costa Rican international with a gorgeous ball over the top, and Leal calmly rounded goalkeeper Tyler Miller and slotted into an empty net for his second goal of the season.

Leal made it a brace before the half, pouncing on a loose ball near the top of the box before ripping a low shot past Miller.

It looked to be smooth sailing for Nashville at home until the second half, when Walker Zimmerman was sent off. The defender picked up a second yellow card for off-ball contact with Taxi Fountas after a first-half foul on Christian Benteke. Both calls were harsh, and Zimmerman was hard done by to see red. He’ll be suspended for next week’s trip to Chicago.

The big picture

Nashville needed a bounce back at home, after last week’s losses in Montréal and Columbus. They’re back up to second place in the Eastern Conference table, with FC Cincinnati dropping points at home for the first time all season in a 2-2 draw with New England Revolution. Nashville have closed the gap against Cincy to six points, although the Lions have a game in hand.

Nashville have a crucial stretch of the season coming up. After next weekend’s road match against Chicago Fire, they’ll welcome fourth-place Philadelphia Union to GEODIS Park before a trip to first-place FC Cincinnati that could either boost or end their hopes of a Supporters’ Shield. After Cincinnati, they’ll take a month-long break from MLS player for the first-ever edition of the Leagues Cup.

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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