Randall Leal's first-half brace propels Nashville past D.C United

Randall Leal recorded a first-half brace, then Nashville SC buckled down defensively after going a man down in the 64th minute to hold off D.C. United for their eighth straight home victory in all competitions, 2-0 on Saturday night.

Bothered by injury earlier this season, Leal had just one goal in 10 MLS matches entering Saturday. However, thanks to some shoddy D.C. United defense, Leal scored in the 18th minute and again in the 37th for Nashville (11-5-5, 38 points).

Nashville star defender Walker Zimmerman picked up his second yellow card just beyond the hour mark. Yet, the home side flexed its trademark defensive muscle and stymied an aggressive push from D.C. (7-9-5, 26 points), which recorded 17 total shots.

During its current 8-0-0 home run, which includes two U.S. Open Cup triumphs, Nashville has outscored its opponents 19-4.

After Leal had a goal negated by an offside call in the first minute, he got behind the D.C. United backline 17 minutes later to control star Hany Mukhtar's pass. Leal then made a move on D.C. keeper Tyler Miller before converting into an empty net.

D.C. United, meanwhile, had their moments of quality pressure in the first half. Notably, Lewis O'Brien's 24-minute header that Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis corralled. However, it would be the D.C. defense again that did itself in 13 minutes later.

D.C. defender Brendan Hines-Ike didn't get a full head on the ball, which ended up toward the box, where two of his teammates collided, and allowed Leal to gain possession. From there, Leal drilled the ball brilliantly for his second-career MLS brace.

Christian Benteke looked to have pulled one back for D.C. with a 55th-minute strike, but the offside flag also went up on the play. Moments later, Willis made a sprawling stop on Cristian Dajome's up-close shot.

D.C. United have now lost three of their last four.

--Field Level Media