The home opener was delayed for five months. Inter Miami’s first win took six matches over a nearly six-month span. And even without fans in the seats, and after sweating out a frantic push from Orlando City in the closing minutes, it could not have felt any sweeter for Diego Alonso and Inter Miami to close out the 3-2 victory against their in-state rivals.
Julian Carranza scored his first two MLS goals in the first half, which was dominated for the most part by IMCF. The first came on a beautifully executed counterattack which saw Rodolfo Pizarro set up Carranza for a left-footed finish to the bottom left corner in the 12th minute. The second came in the 23rd minute on a long cross from Ben Sweat into the six-yard box which found the far corner on a lofted header from Carranza.
Orlando had tied the score at 1 in between those two tallies on Daryl Dike’s first career goal, which deflected off Roman Torres past Inter Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles.
In the 49th minute, Lewis Morgan sent a long cross which Victor Ulloa headed back toward the penalty spot. It fell perfectly on the right foot of Pizarro who calmly delivered it into the right corner of the goal for a 3-1 lead. Pizarro, who was fantastic throughout the night, nearly scored his second of the match on what would have been Miami’s prettiest goal of the season, just one minute later. His curling shot from just inside the box struck the inside of the far post before being cleared away.
With a 3-1 lead and seemingly in control, Alonso’s tactics for his club shifted to a more defensive approach. Possession significantly dropped for the locals and they conceded a second goal in the 80th minute. Nani beat Dylan Nealis on a header at the back post, minutes after Nealis had entered off the bench to switch to a 5-man defensive line. The final 15 minutes saw Orlando continue to press for the tying goal, with a Nani cross deflecting off the crossbar and out of play as the rain became a factor in the late minutes.
Nonetheless, it was a deserved and long-awaited win for IMCF, which showed bursts of speed and longer stretches of possession than it displayed at any point in the MLS is Back tournament, where they lost by one goal in each of the three matches they played.
Inter Miami owners, family and staff were the only non-media members allowed into the stadium. A group of about 50 fans from all of the local supporters’ groups gathered outside the gates in the open northeast corner of the stadium and could be heard chanting and firing smoke bombs after their team scored.
Center back and 2019 MLS All-Star Leandro Gonzalez Pirez made his team debut with a solid performance, securing his role as the anchor of the defense in his first 90 minutes.
Inter Miami was without newly acquired midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who is still pending resolution of his work visa before he can make his MLS debut. He is not expected to be ready for Wednesday’s matchup at Atlanta United.
Inter Miami was without two forwards – suspended Juan Agudelo and first overall draft pick Robbie Robinson, who is still recovering from March knee injury. Agudelo will be available Wednesday.