Inter Miami have won five of their last seven games, but two of those were US Open Cup victories against lower league sides, including a 3-1 win over South Georgia Tormenta FC on Tuesday night.
The sobering reality ahead of Saturday’s home game against DC United is that Miami has just suffered back-to-back road losses to Charlotte and New England and finds itself in 13and place in the Eastern Conference standings, one spot behind last place. Miami’s minus-10 goal differential is tied for worst in the league.
But coach Phil Neville has seen enough in his revamped squad to remain optimistic about the future. After a sluggish start against Tormenta, Inter Miami recovered and dominated the second half with two goals from Ariel Lassiter and one from Robbie Robinson.
The attack should be bolstered as striker Leo Campana, who supplanted Gonzalo Higuain in the starting lineup before picking up a minor injury last week, is expected to be back for Saturday’s game (8 p.m., My33).
“I was really emotional, frustrated and angry at halftime. [on Tuesday] because in the previous seven games, in every game, I saw a certain level of performance and attitude and felt that we fell below that [on Tuesday]”, Neville said. “We joked in training on Thursday that maybe one every seven games we can give 45 minutes of that even though I don’t like it. We did a lot of [roster] changes, and I have to take responsibility for that.
He liked the determination he saw in his players, saying last year’s Inter Miami team “would have lost by five”.
Neville challenged his team to take control of Saturday’s game from the opening whistle. DC United have shown new life since signing Greek national team striker Taxi Fountas last month after suffering a coaching change and a long spell of defeat at the start of the season.
Fountas scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo and had two first-half goals and an assist in a 3-2 win over New England.
“We’re playing against a team with a new coach, a team that’s rebounded, that’s got some really good forwards in good shape… it’s going to be a tough game,” Neville said.
DC should be well rested as interim coach Chad Ashton opted to rest most of their starters for the midweek US Open Cup game, which they lost 3-0 to New York Red Bulls. York.
Miami could still miss goalie Nick Marsman (back) and center back Aime Mabika (hamstring). Defender Joevin Jones, who missed nine months after knee surgery, should get more playing time.
“It’s about getting my confidence and momentum back and finishing the season strong,” Jones said. “I’m happy, I feel like my life is back, on the pitch with my brothers again, playing in front of amazing fans. The team has a lot of competition. I have to keep working hard and waiting for the good time to take my chance.
This story was originally published May 13, 2022 2:57 p.m.