Nashville SC advanced through the Play-In Round of the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in emphatic fashion, riding a hot start and a second-half dagger from Dax McCarty to a 3-0 victory over Inter Miami CF at Nissan Stadium.
In a battle of 2020 expansion sides, it was Nashville owning the night, with a spectacular golazo from Randall Leal and a penalty kick finish from Hany Mukhtar setting them on their way before McCarty's 57th-minute finish put the contest to bed. With the result, Nashville move on to take on Toronto FC in Round One on November 24.
Leal got the party started for Nashville in highlight-reel fashion in the 14th minute, teeing up a distance shot from 30 yards out and uncorking a perfectly placed rocket finish past Inter Miami goalkeeper John McCarthy and into the net.
The hosts then doubled that advantage just 10 minutes later after Mukhtar burst in on goal following some nifty combination play with Jhonder Cadiz and was brought down by a charging McCarthy, drawing a penalty kick whistle from referee Ismail Elfath. That allowed Mukhtar to stride to the spot, where he made no mistake with the finish to make it 2-0.
McCarty got Nashville's third with a stellar individual effort just before the hour mark that saw the veteran midfielder collect the ball at midfield and make a charging run all the way to the top of the penalty box, where he curled home a slick finish for the game's final goal.
- 14' - NSH - Randall Leal | WATCH
- 24' - NSH - Hany Mukhtar (PK) | WATCH
- 57' - NSH - Dax McCarty | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's a great, historic moment for Nashville SC, which now has a playoff win to reward themselves in what has been an extremely impressive expansion season. They've been tabbed as a defense-first group for much of the season, but have showcased an increasingly refined attack down the stretch and looked dynamic going forward again in this one. They'll have plenty of momentum and will be playing with nothing to lose in Round One against Toronto. Miami, meanwhile, see a disappointing end to their own inaugural MLS campaign which started with high expectations. They were admittedly shorthanded for this contest, but it nonetheless figures to be an active offseason for David Beckham and co. to beef up this roster.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: You can't hit it any better than Randall Leal hit this one. The Costa Rican attacker's rocket shot is one of the best goals we've seen all season.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Mukhtar was a dynamic presence in the midfield and has really found his stride of late. If Nashville manage to go on a run, there's no doubt the DP attacker will be a big part of it.
- NSH: Tuesday, Nov. 24 vs. Toronto FC | 6 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN 1/4/5 in Canada | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One
- MIA: End of season