Orlando City starts the final week of the regular season with a rivalry match against Inter Miami at 8 p.m. Wednesday at DRV PNK Stadium. Miami is currently tied with Orlando on points with 45 and in record at 13-13-6, which makes this game extremely important for both sides’ playoff hopes as the sit sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with the Lions currently ahead on the goal-differential tiebreaker. Let’s take a look at the numbers behind Orlando’s rivals to the south, Inter Miami.
The Miami offense has struggled to consistently produce quality showings this year as the Herons are tied for 20th in goals scored (42). A big problem for the offense has been its inability to create scoring opportunities that would allow the club to put consistent pressure and strain on opposing defenses. This season, Miami is tied for 21st in assists (40), 22nd in accurate forward-zone passes (5,115), and tied for 26th in total scoring attempts (361). Another way of looking at the inability of Miami to create good scoring opportunities is by looking at shot- and goal-creating actions. In these statistics we see that the Herons are tied for 23rd in shot-creating actions (591) and tied for 18th in goal-creating actions (70). It will be important for Orlando to keep the Miami offense limited in this way as the Herons can cause issues when they do get an opportunity. They are tied for second in accurate shooting percentage (38.8%) and tied for seventh in goals per shot (0.11).
Miami has been as close to average as a team can be on defense this year, ranking close to the middle of the league in almost every category. The Herons are tied for the eighth-most goals conceded (52) on the 12th-most shots against (152) this season. Statistically, they are at their best in tackles (553), where they are tied for eighth, and they are worst in applying pressures (4,326), where they are 17th. In all other defensive statistical categories, Miami is right near the middle of MLS rankings, meaning the Orlando City offense can expect to see middle-of-the-road defensive play all night. The Herons are 11th in clearances (625), tied for 12th in duel percentage (50.4%), 13th in successful pressure percentage (28.9%) and blocks (485), and 15th in interceptions (316).
Players to Watch
Forward Gonzalo Higuaín, who just announced Monday that he will retire after the 2022 season, has been the much-needed spark for an otherwise struggling Miami offense. Higuaín leads the team in goals (14), with 10 of those coming in his last 11 MLS games. He is also third in total scoring attempts (47), on-target scoring attempts (18), and accurate shooting percentage (38.3%) among Miami players with at least 20 total scoring attempts. Miami has also relied on the offensive abilities of forward Leonardo Campana this year. Campana is second in goals (10), first in total scoring attempts (52) and on-target scoring attempts (24), and second in accurate shooting percentage (46.1%). Higuaín, along with midfielders Bryce Duke and Alejandro Pozuelo, have helped create scoring chances for other attacking Herons, with Higuaín leading in crosses (17) while Duke and Pozuelo are tied for first in assists (6).
Midfielder Gregore has been making plays all over the pitch on defense for Miami this season. Gregore currently leads the team in pressures (753) and tackles (107), as well as being tied for first in blocks (57), and ranking fourth in interceptions (35) and fifth in clearances (68). Meanwhile, defender Damion Lowe, who knocked in a game-winning own goal against Orlando earlier this season, has also been a solid piece on the Miami defense. Lowe is first in clearances (116) and interceptions (51), and ranks fourth in blocks (48) and fifth in tackles (56). Goalkeeper Drake Callender has started 22 of 32 matches for the Herons, conceding 33 goals and making 77 saves for a 70% save percentage.
That is what I found on upcoming Orlando opponent and rival Inter Miami. Let me know how you are feeling about this game and the Lions’ playoff hopes in the comments and, as always, go Orlando!