Inter Miami CF Lose To NYCFC 1-0, Eliminated From #MLSisBack Tournament

Inter Miami CF

No one ever wants to leave Walt Disney World, but Inter Miami CF’s stay in the Major League Soccer bubble at the resort was disappointingly short. Miami was not given many favors in its group draw, forced into an opening fixture with Orlando City SC followed by a date with the Philadelphia Union. The club’s final match saw it fighting for its tournament lives against NYCFC.

Coming into the match, both teams were seeking their first win. NYCFC were conceding more goals than Miami. Unfortunately, a 63rd minute goal would seal Miami’s fate.

First Half

The 9:00 AM kickoff was likely the first time most of the players had an early-morning wake-up call for soccer since their youth days. “Feels like” temperatures already close to 100 degrees, the humidity was surprisingly low for swampy Central Florida. Miami looked the better team early on, no doubt used to the playing conditions.

In the 10th minute, Inter Miami would get its first opportunity. Lewis Morgan found himself in the attacking end with right-back Nicol├ís Figal overlapping him on the flank. Morgan’s pass to Figal would be crossed in to a leaping Juan Agudelo. The striker’s header force NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson down and to his left for a fingertip save, keeping Miami off the board early. 

The heat would bog down both sides and the next-best chance on frame would come in the 35th minute. After a foul by NYCFC’s Maxine Chanot on Rodolfo Pizzaro, Morgan would stand over a free kick about 40 yards out and to the left of the goal. Morgan’s superb cross found the head of Figal but the effort was once again saved by Johnson. 

Second Half

Both teams would come out of the locker room and once again be bogged down by the Central Florida heat. Neither team looked fit enough to engage in a high-press that would likely have broken the gridlock. Miami finally decided to employ a press in the 60th minute. 

The press forced a turnover in NYCFC’s own end and resulted in an eventual foul against Agudelo. Morgan’s cross would be palmed away by Johnson and out for a Miami throw. The attack would not stop there as another flurry into the box would land at the feet of defender Roman Torres who miss-hit his effort. Wil Trapp would collect the loose ball and attempt to spring Agudelo forward at the edge of the 6-yard box for a tap-in goal that was ruled offside. 

A hydration break would stop play seconds later, and NYCFC came charging out after the stoppage. In the 64th minute, Miami would suffer their latest defensive blunder. NYCFC’s Alexandru Mitrita would find Ismael Tajouri-Shradi on a long 50-yard ball over the top. Tajouri-Shradi managed to beat Miami’s offside trap by a matter of inches and calmly beat Luis Robles for the lone goal of the match. 

The frustration began to boil over for Inter Miami in the closing moments of the match. In the 90th minute, Juan Agudelo was ejected after receiving his second yellow card for bulldozing his mark in the penalty area on a restart. Minutes later, second-half subs Julian Carranza and Lee Nguyen would commit rough challenges against NYCFC, but both eluded discipline. 

Inter Miami: The Road Ahead

Inter Miami’s time in Orlando has come to an end with the team unable to secure a point over three matches. Miami has now lost its first five matches in MLS play, with all defeats coming from a one-goal margin. The margin is much more concerning than it appears. One goal losses, at face value, make you believe you’re close to a breakthrough. Unfortunately, Inter Miami has not been close at all. 

Defensive gaffes have reared their ugly head at the most catastrophic times. Each match has been decided on a defensive blunder from the back line and Miami’s holding midfielders. Rodolfo Pizzaro is asked to orchestrate the attack and provide finishing on his own. Wil Trapp has shown to be inconsistent at best through five games and undeserving of a call-up to the USMNT when qualifiers resume. Miami’s best midfielder has arguably been Lee Nguyen. Unfortunately, Nguyen is only seeing the pitch for about 20 minutes per game.

It will be another long layoff for the Herons as they await for the tournament to end on August 11th. With the rest of the 2020 schedule up in the air, there is no certainty when Inter Miami will return to action. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in South Florida, it could be quite a while until “La Familia” can get this poor taste out of their mouths. As one fan alluded to, “They set out to build an Atlanta and they ended up building an Orlando.” The season can’t resume fast enough for Miami’s ownership and management. 

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