Nashville SC played to a 2-0 victory with ten men over D.C. United. Randall Leal’s first half brace sealed the deal for the Boys in Gold. And although Walker Zimmerman was sent off in the 64′ with his second yellow of the match, D.C. United couldn’t find an opening.

Morale was high after a victory over first place Cincinnati last week, but the Black-and-Red knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to take on Nashville SC. The home team has only lost one match this season at GEODIS Park (7W-1L-2D).

This meeting with Nashville was certainly a litmus test for D.C. United as we move into the final third of the regular season and it was a humbling one.

Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar, Teal Bunbury and company easily picked their way through the Black-and-Red’s midfield and defense, capitalizing on the smallest of errors. Tonight showcased opportunities for improved communication, especially on the backline.

Leal established himself as a clear threat from the 2′, when he dropped into the box and quickly sunk a shot. Fortunately for the Black-and-Red, Leal’s first strike would be called offside, but it was a foreshadowing of the match to come.

Leal opened the scoring in the 18′ with a shot from the center of the box. MLS Golden Boot leader Hany Mukhtar provided the through ball to Leal, who caught Tyler Miller far out of goal. With the backline playing a bit too deep, it was all to easy for Leal to find the back of the net.

D.C. United tried to recover after Leal’s first strike, but struggled to suppress a cohesive Nashville side that specializes in finding pockets of space to advance their attack. When the Black-and-Red were able to mount promising counter attacks, Joe Willis and the Nashville backline were there to deny them any opportunities.

Leal would double Nashville’s lead in the 37′ with a strike from the right hand side of the box. Although Donovan Pines worked to halt Leal’s progress, it wasn’t enough. A decisive strike from the edge of the box crashed into the net, never giving Miller a chance.

Despite a second booking and ejection for Walker Zimmerman in the 64′ and a strong substitution by Wayne Rooney that saw Taxi Fountas enter the match right after halftime, The Black-and-Red couldn’t overcome Nashville. Fountas improved D.C.’s attack, but the Black-and-Red still weren’t able to create successful chances in the final third. Ultimately, the match was won by Leal’s first half brace.

This won’t be the last we’ll see of Nashville – 2022 MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar and Designated Player Walker Zimmerman will head to the District for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game on July 19. Goalkeeper Ben Martino will make an appearance in the Goalie Wars Exhibition. 

D.C. United will look to quickly turn results around in the club’s favor, remaining on the road to face FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium on July 4, at 8:30 pm ET.

Three Takeaways

  • Miller or the backline? While Tyler Miller was well out of the net for Randall Leal’s first goal of the match, Wayne Rooney clarified that in that instance, it was likely Brendan Hines-Ike’s error in going a bit too deep on a direct play. He attributed Leal’s second goal to poor communication.
  • Benteke suspended. Christian Benteke will be missing in Dallas on Tuesday due to yellow card accumulation.
  • Planning ahead for Dallas. The Black-and-Red will need to make significant changes for Dallas due to Benteke’s absence and the quick turnaround. Per Rooney, we can expect to see four or five changes to the lineup.

Watch the highlights from Nashville SC vs. D.C. United 

Box Score

MLS Regular Season – Game 22

Nashville SC: 2 Leal 18′ and 37′

D.C. United: 0


Nashville SC: Joe Willis, Daniel Levitz, Jack Maher, Shaq Moore, Walker Zimmerman, Dax McCarty, Randall Leal (Lukas MacNaughton 67′), Hany Mukhtar (Taylor Washington 90’+2′), Teal Bunbury (Ethan Zubak 67′), Alex Muyl (Tah Brian Anunga 83′), Sean Davis

D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Pedro Santos, Donovan Pines (Taxi Fountas 46′), Derrick Williams, Brendan Hines-Ike, Andy Najar, Chris Durkin (Yamil Asad 85′), Lewis O’Brien, Mateusz Klich, Cristian Dájome (Kristian Fletcher 74′), Christian Benteke

Misconduct Summary

Nashville SC: Zimmerman 20′ and 64′ (red), Leal 34′, Bunbury 66′

D.C. United: Benteke 39′, Fountas 74′

Featured image courtesy of D.C. United // Hannah Wagner

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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So are we getting concerned about Miller’s walkabouts?
Also every defense has shambolic moments but the second goal was unfortunate

Michael Carter

The first was failrly shambolic too! I personally wouldn’t pin that on Miller (I get there is room for debate here), but instead a poor defensive line. Hines-Ike (if memory serves me correct) barely played Leal on. If Miller is back in his goal that is a easier finish for Leal. At least he had a chance to make a play on the ball. If Miller gets disconnected from the back line we will see more of those kinds of chances, not less.

Hence, if we really want to see a more conventional role for Miller, that needs to be taken up with the head coach and tactically DC need to make the decision not to hold such a high line in possession and when defending the initial stages of an opponents possession/buildup. Miller getting more disconnected from his back line would be akin to a center-fielder in a minor league game deciding the daisys in the grass are more interesting than the game 😉

Further, if Rooney does opt for less of a sweeper-keeper, then I think we might need a alternative to Miller at that position. He’s been great with his feet and defensive interceptions, but hasn’t proven a great shotstopper. Maybe Bono would be better for that role?

Here’s to hoping DC have a bounceback game on the fourth and everyone here has a good holiday weekend too!

[…] of D.C. United’s 2-0 loss to Nashville SC by us and WaPo. In case you don’t feel like reading the sadness, this sums it up I […]

Matt Glad

Was out of the country this weekend without cell service and I was pretty frustrated to see this result. Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but DC has really struggled against well-coached teams like Nashville, NE, and Columbus. Those are the teams DC will have to beat if they want to make any noise in the playoffs. Beating Cincy in DC with starters missing is great, but games like this take away from that for me. Am I overreacting?


No, it’s just an observation. DCU’s problem defensively is the lack of pace in the back line. They rely on Miller to clean up the long ball over the top. Problem is that players like Mukhtar can drop those on a dime, that’s when the trouble starts. There is no workaround this season, DCU will live of die with this. We’ll also get a “preview” of sorts of what Rooney thinks his system needs in the transfer window, that is if Dumpster Diving Dave and his Merry Men actually pull the trigger on anything – and pull it in time to make a difference with visa issues and DCU’s season ending in early October.

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