Miami needed to provide an answer to its critics coming into Saturday’s game against Indy Eleven. Boy, did they ever make a response. After a miserable start to the fall campaign, that includes the end of the cup run, Miami returned with a similar flair that we had gotten used to in the spring.
The first half was better than their previous performances but left much to be wanted. Indy had multiple issues with injuries and were forced to use their first substitution in the 33rd minute cutting Craig Henderson’s night short. The midfield became a place where passes went to die for both teams. Plenty of interceptions allowed the two teams to trade chances while Miami got on the door step a few times notably a cross that ran through the mouth of goal with no player able to tap it in.
The clubs entered the tunnel tied at zero. It wouldn’t be long until Miami got on the board first, something that has been lacking recently. A 48th minute header by Stefano Pinho found the back of the net from a Jaime Chavez cross but an even better feed by Hunter Freeman.
After handling a few waves of Indy attacks, Dylan Mares got himself back in form. A nifty run through the midfield allowed “Queso Blanco” to find some space and fire from outside the box. Placed perfectly low and left, beating Jon Busch, grew Miami’s leads to two.
Indy would not go down with a fight. In the 64th minute, what can only be described as a tidal wave that never makes shore, the Eleven had five chances to beat Mario Daniel Vega. A terrible give away allowed Indy to break in the box on a two-on-one opportunity. The shot from Zayed blasted off the cross bar. The ensuing volley was off target, followed by a punch out by Vega on a cross. David Goldsmith fired a shot that a diving Vega parried away, and the final shot was turned away by Miami’s back line. Sound crazy? Watch it for yourself.
Miami would get their third goal on the night on a nifty cross in the 68th minute by Freeman under the outstretched leg of an Indy defender and a diving header by Pinho completing his brace.
Indy would come back and get a goal of their own as Zayed finally beats Vega. The game would end 3-1 but not before leaving a bittersweet taste in Nesta and Company’s mouth. A 90th minute injury to Pinho in the penalty area had the striker down on pitch for minutes. The stretcher was placed next to him but Pinho limped off the field with help of two Miami trainers with an apparent right ankle injury. Matters got worse as seconds before the final whistle captain Michael Lahoud went down favoring his hamstring.
We had a chance to speak with Nesta at the post game conference. Both players will be assessed in the days to come but seem doubtful for the upcoming clash with North Carolina FC. Adding onto the injuries of Mason Trafford and Vincenzo Rennella, Miami will look upon its bench to keep the momentum going. We have the gaffer’s audio for you.