Miami remains winless; fall to Union 2-1

Inter Miami CF still search for their first win with time fleeting in the #MLSisBack cup. While the scoreline matched up correctly, I unfortunately got the result flipped. Miami has failed to live up to the lofty expectations in their showings so far. Inter will need some help in order to avoid a consolation game in their final matchday against NYCFC.

First Half

Philadelphia’s counter attack was on display often and made its mark early in the match. In the fifth minute, Inter was unable to link passes cross pitch before being dispossessed. The loose ball was collected by the Union down the right flank and sent forward releasing Brenden Aaronson. Aaronson worked his way down the goal line and into the Miami box before making a desperation pass through the box. The pass eluded four black shirts and a desperate Lewis Morgan coming back into the play before making a half-hearted attempt to block Kai Wagner’s strike. Wagner’s strike would beat Luis Robles and give the Union the early lead.

Inter would come roaring back to life in the 36th minute. After connecting on multiple passes through the Union press, Miami would get out of its own end. Lewis Morgan calmly dribbled through midfield before finding Rodolfo Pizarro streaking ahead of him. Pizarro being closed down by two Union defenders played a cheeky backheel back to Morgan who released Matias Pellegrini down the left wing. Pellegrini’s cross through traffic would land at the feet of Pizarro and his footwork and strike leveled the match. 

Just a few minutes later Miami would find its second best opportunity of the night so far. Victor Ulloa would beat South Florida native Alejandro Bedoya to a loose ball and release Pizarro again into the box. Pizarro’s return ball would be snuffed by the Union but the ricochet would land at the feet of defender Andres Reyes. Reyes’ blast would sail wide of the frame and never really threatened Union keeper Andre Blake. 

Second Half

Both teams came out of the break firing. The Union sprung forward Kacper Przybylko loose in the box before being closed down and challenged by Miami’s Reyes to only concede a corner. Moments later, Miami would come roaring down the left flank with Ben Sweat sending in a cross that was blocked by the Union but landed at the feet of Pellegrini. Pellegrini quickly squared up Morgan and his low curler was kept out by the fingertips of Blake. 

Disaster would strike in the 63rd minute as the Union escaped a deep Miami press. The outlet ball should have been easily snuffed out by Miami’s Wil Trapp, who failed to make the challenge to stop the Union’s counter. Aaronson would end up with the ball and break down the left side in a full pitch sprint before switching field to Przybylko. Przybylko’s quick cut to the inside would open his left footed effort past Robles giving the Union the lead.

In the 75th minute, Miami was given a lifeline on a handball call by the referee. Union’s Jakob Glesnes would be caught in no-man’s land and could only play the ball close to his body off the shoulder. Initially Miami was awarded a penalty before VAR would intervene. The replay would show that Glesnes had his arm tucked near his body and the handball was not a deliberate action, eliminating a chance from the spot for Miami. 

Miami’s best effort to equalize the match, yet again, would come in the 83rd minute. From an in-swinging corner, defender Roman Torres would elude his mark and rise above everyone in the box. His headed effort would clang against the crossbar denying Miami the equalizer.

The Road Ahead

Unfortunately for Inter Miami, the path to a third-place wild-card spot will now proceed through a 3rd place berth. Miami will need some help from the other groups and a win against NYCFC on July 20th in order to advance in the tournament. Miami has fallen short of the expectations set not only by fans but amplified by the words of its front office. For months Inter Miami has stated that they expected to win early and often. While all of Miami’s defeats have come from one-goal games, the quality has yet to be seen.

The defense has been gaffe-prone, leaving Robles to pick up the pieces. Miami’s goals-against tally would certainly be higher without the MLS veteran in between the pipes. The midfield has failed in linking the attack. It’s also struggled with keeping the opposition away and to the sides of the pitch. While the attack has had numerous chances, their finishing leaves plenty to be desired apart from Pizarro. 

Paul McDonough was regarded as a mastermind in roster construction after putting together a masterpiece with Atlanta United. So far what we have seen from Miami is more akin to the early days of Orlando, as opposed to McDonough’s second act in Atlanta. Miami has more holes to fill than one DP slot can plug. Perhaps the troubles plaguing Miami are more about chemistry than talent. Through four games we’ve seen bright moments from individuals, yet the overall quality is not up to snuff. Miami will have one last chance to get it right before their season takes another short hiatus.

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