Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday afternoon Tropic Thunder match-up between Orlando City (8-2-8, 32 points) and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF (5-11-3, 18 points), at Inter Miami CF Stadium. It’s the fourth overall meeting in the series between these two Florida-based teams and the third match between the teams since the MLS is Back Tournament ended. This 3:30 p.m. match (Univision, TUDN) is a must-win match for the hosts, who enter the weekend two points behind the final playoff spot and chasing a team that has a game in hand.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Orlando City holds a 2-1-0 record in this fledgling series (0-1-0 on the road). However, today’s game will be an emotional one for Miami. The expansion side will allow fans in the stands for the first time ever. Orlando’s last trip south was Inter’s first ever home game, so like the last time in South Florida, the Herons will again likely enter the game with a bit more urgency to get the three points.
The teams last met in Orlando on Sept. 12, with Orlando battling to a 2-1 win on Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions had taken the lead on an own goal by Andres Reyes. Former Lion Brek Shea tied things up in the 65th before Pereyra answered with a nice goal off the left post in the 69th.
The last meeting in Fort Lauderdale opened Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to regular-season play after MLS is Back. That one was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the Lions, who fell 3-2 in Inter Miami’s first-ever home match. It was Miami’s first franchise MLS win after an 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than one goal for the first time all season in that match. Daryl Dike and Nani provided the offense for Orlando but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.
The first Tropic Thunder match went Orlando City’s way, with Nani scoring late to lift the Lions to a 2-1 win over the upstarts from South Florida in the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament. Despite it being a tournament match, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons in the 47th minute, but Chris Mueller equalized in the 70th, setting the stage for Nani’s 97th-minute winner. That late goal propelled the Lions on a run to the tournament final and sparked its own t-shirt.
Orlando enters unbeaten in 12 matches (6-0-6) but the team’s last loss came at Inter Miami CF Stadium. City is also on a bit of a winless streak, having drawn three straight games and four of the last five, with a pair of 1-1 decisions last week against the two New York City-based clubs. The Lions are 2-2-4 in true road matches in 2020 and 4-2-5 in all league games away from Exploria Stadium.
Miami is winless in its last two (0-1-1) games after a three-game winning streak. Inter is 3-2-2 at home in 2020 and unbeaten (1-0-1) in the last two at Inter Miami CF Stadium.
Lewis Morgan has emerged as Miami’s secret weapon. The Scottish international leads the Herons in goals (5) and assists (6) and was a dangerous player throughout the last meeting between these teams in Orlando. Mexican international Rodolfo Pizarro returns from national team duty for this match. He has three goals and five assists this season. Shea has emerged in recent weeks, scoring four goals to shoot up to second on Miami’s goal-scoring list. He has goals in his last two matches and in four of his last nine.
Oscar Pareja spoke Thursday about the difficulty of playing a team for the fourth time this season in a relatively short time period.
“It’s not easy, especially in the short time,” he said. “You have in mind the last game but at the same time you are preparing for the next one. You have some information from those three games before but this is a new game with different protagonists, different moments for the teams or momentums for the teams.”
While this game looms as a vital one for Miami’s playoff hopes, the Lions are also looking at this as an important opportunity to continue ascending.
“After we achieved the objective of being in the playoffs, right now we would like to focus on is trying to get the most points we can,” he said.
The Lions will be without Dom Dwyer (knee), Joao Moutinho (groin), and Mauricio Pereyra (undisclosed injury) for sure. Uri Rosell (undisclosed injury) has been seen in training videos and photos for over a week but was still listed out on Friday’s MLS Injury Report. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele (both undisclosed injuries) were not on Friday’s injury report so they should theoretically be available. Pedro Gallese and Sebas Mendez are back from national team duty and both Matheus Aias and Alexander Alvarado are available, although the latter is unlikely to be included on the team sheet due to having very few training sessions with the team.
Miami will be without high-profile signing Gonzalo Higuain, who picked up a red card following his team’s loss to Montreal. Another high-profile absence will be injured goalkeeper Luis Robles (left arm fracture). The Herons will also be without midfielders George Acosta (knee) and David Norman (ankle) and defender Denso Ulysse (lower leg). Meanwhile, Reyes is set to return from a facial injury.
Mandatory Match Content
Here’s your mandatory match #content for this one:
- Our Ben Miller discussed the three keys to Orlando City getting a W today.
- Our Dave Rohe discussed the Lions’ 12-game streak and what might lie ahead.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, Ruan.
Midfielders: Chris Mueller, Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez, Andres Perea.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Kamal Miller, Alex De John, Rodrigo Schlegel, Joey DeZart, Tesho Akindele, Matheus Aias, Alexander Alvarado, Benji Michel.
Inter Miami (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: John McCarthy.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Nicolas Figal, Dylan Nealis.
Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi, Wil Trapp, Rodolfo Pizarro.
Forwards: Matias Pellegrini, Julian Carranza, Lewis Morgan.
Bench: Drake Callender, AJ Delagarza, Mikey Ambrose, Andres Reyes, Federico Higuain, Victor Ulloa, Juan Agudelo, Robbie Robinson, Brek Shea.
Ref: Allen Chapman.
AR1: Jeffrey Greeson.
AR2: Claudiu Badea.
4th: Elvis Osmanovic.
VAR: David Gantar.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Inter Miami CF Stadium — Fort Lauderdale.
TV: Univision, TUDN.
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: Twitter (U.S. only).
Enjoy the game! Go City!