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.
- 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.
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
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