Thu, 29 Sep 2022

NYCFC look to maintain mastery of Inter Miami

Field Level Media
13 Aug 2022, 04:55 GMT+10

Inter Miami will try to move back over the Eastern Conference playoff line Saturday night when they host New York City FC, who are trying to stay within reach of the top spot.

Inter Miami (8-10-6, 30 points) are in a four-way tie for seventh place with 30 points in pursuit of the final playoff spot, however they trail in the tiebreaker.

New York City (12-5-6, 42 points) enters three points behind first-place Philadelphia but has played one fewer game than the Union. On July 23, NYCFC scored a 2-0 home win over Inter Miami, and have won all five meetings since the latter club joined MLS in 2020.

Inter Miami salvaged a 2-2 draw at Montreal FC last Saturday with a late goal by second-half substitute Emerson Rodriguez. The Herons are a solid 6-3-3 in home matches this season.

"We have something very special, the spirit of the team, and that can take you a long way," head coach Phil Neville said. "I am immensely proud of every single player."

Yet, co-scoring leader Leo Campana is expected to miss a few more weeks due to a hamstring issue. Corentin Jean, who missed the Montreal game, is doubtful, while Brek Shea is inching closer to returning after making a substitute appearance for Inter Miami II midweek.

With Campana out, Inter Miami could use a big game from Alejandro Pozuelo. During his time with Toronto FC starting in 2019, Pozuelo scored seven goals and added four assists in the regular season and playoffs against NYC. He has yet to score in his five games with Inter Miami, but he did pick up his second assist on their opening goal against Montreal.

New York City (4-4-3 away) lost 3-2 at the Columbus Crew last Saturday despite striking first less than four minutes into the game on an own goal. Before the loss, NYCFC had been on a seven-game unbeaten streak dating back to June 26.

Interim head coach Nick Cushing is aware of the problems that players like Pozuelo and Gonzalo Higuain can cause his defense.

"If you give Pozuelo space, he'll find Higuain with his movement," Cushing said. "If you give Higuain space in the box, he can be deadly... We know that they're in a moment where they're creating and scoring chances. So we've got to make sure that we're compact and that we deny them space at any time in and around our goal."

Defender Alex Callens, who was subbed off against the Crew, is unavailable for NYCFC with an knee injury. Anton Tinnerholm returned from injury and was a second-half substitute against the Crew, so he should be good to go for the Inter Miami match.

New York's Gabriel Pereira picked up his fifth goal of the season. The a 20-year-old Brazilian has only appeared in 15 matches and 638 total minutes or NYC but has already become an impact midfielder.

--Field Level Media

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