Nashville SC’s Randall Leal on Saturday night proved to be the difference versus DC United after two first half goals from the Costa Rican international. Saturday night’s 2-0 home win for Nashville SC was the eighth straight win at Geodis Park. A win that proved to be much needed after two straight losses on the road.
Before Saturday night’s match Nashville SC’s manager Gary Smith had a few more players to pick from when selecting the Starting XI. Two players specifically were back in contention after returning from injury, that of course is Nashville SC’s Teal Bunbury and Alex Muyl. Two players when fit are almost nailed on to start week in week out for Smith. Bunbury has proved to be a big miss when he misses a match and the player it affects the most is Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar who is happy to have his striker back.
The first 45 minutes of play contained the only scoring for the entirety of the match and Nashville SC was just ok with that. It only took the home side two minutes to find the back of the net even though it turned out to be offside, however it was a warning shot of what was coming. One of the benefits of Bunbury being back in the action for Nashville SC is that it allowed Mukhtar to play a little deeper which is how the first goal came for Nashville SC. Mukhtar in the 18th min picked the ball up in his own half and saw Leal making a run behind the backline and Mukhtar played a pin point pass which gave Leal a 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Of course, a player with the skill and composure like Leal he buried the chance. Those two players in prior seasons had really put together quite the one two punch and for the first time this season you finally got to see the magic both players could create. The final goal came oddly enough from Mukhtar once again being closer to the halfway line although this time he won’t be getting the assist. Mukhtar almost plays a hit and hope type ball that somehow bounces around and finds Leal inside the box with a lot to do if he wants to find the back of the net. Leal manages to get off one of the sweetest strikes you will see as he puts his laces through it on the right side of the box and beats DC United’s Goalkeeper Tyler Miller who recently got selected in the All-Star game ahead of Joe Willis.
It is crazy to think about just how dominant Nashville SC has been at home compared to last season. With Saturday night’s win they have now won more games in their first 10 home games (7) than they did all of last season (6). Their strong home form has given them the luxury of not having to go on the road and almost make it seem like a must win game. Even with the two straight losses on the road and with Saturday night’s win they still remain in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Patton Cook / WNSR Nashville SC Columnist
@Patton_Cook on Twitter