FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (FNN) – Inter Miami CF secured a last gasp 2-1 victory against Orlando City SC with a set piece header from Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (LGP) Saturday.
After a shaky start, Inter Miami stayed persistent in the counter attack to cause opportunities. A heavy press at the end of the first half saw Orlando City crack under pressure. Blaise Matuidi struck the ball into a dangerous spot and Robin Jansson’s awkward deflection made it all even at the end of the first half.
Inter Miami showed depth in their play as they created attacking efforts down the wing. Rodolfo Pizarro showed his prowess as a tactician with the ball. The 26-year-old Mexican international has a propensity for flare and kept that style in this game. His quick cuts and erratic feints made Orlando City shaky in defense on many occasions.
The build-up play between Pizarro, Carranza and Sweat in the attacking third was a sign of improvement for Miami. Despite lacking options in attack, they found opportunities through outlasting their opponents and kept a consistent effort in the second half thanks to their change of pace.
Inter Miami’s fans also played a major role in their home victory. Before the game, Diego Alonso remarked that the fans returning to Inter Miami CF Stadium would act as the ‘12th man’ in this Florida derby. That statement rang true over the course of 90 minutes as the raucous Miami crowd kept their side at high morale.
Ultimately, it was the skipper Leandro Gonzalez Pirez that would find the back of the net in the 89th minute. Lewis Morgan delivered a lethal cross into the penalty box that was tucked away easily once LGP got past his man. Although it was only the first set piece goal of Inter Miami’s season, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Coupled with a crucial save from John McCarthy, Miami showed poise and resilience in all areas of the pitch.
With this win, Inter Miami catapulted themselves into playoff position. At 10th place, Inter Miami have their sights set on history if a few fortunate results get thrown their way.
Their next two games are against FC Dallas and Toronto FC away from home. While strength of schedule isn’t in their favor, Inter Miami hope to take their momentum into the final stretch of the regular season.
The intensity for the final regular season games of the year are reaching an apex for Miami. For Orlando City on the other hand, their unbeaten run comes to an end this weekend at the hands of a bloodthirsty regional rival. Orlando City’s initial preparation seemed to work as Daryl Dike got off to a flying start. The 23-year-old striking prodigy received a beautifully weighted ball from Antônio Carlos and he was off to the races.
Dike was able to find the back of the next for his fifth goal of the season. The back and forth between teams reached a boiling point in the second half. Referee Alan Chapman finished the game with a total of eight yellow cards administered to both teams. The Florida derby lived up to its expectation once again, and this time Miami came away victorious at the final moment.
This result is emblematic of the effort Inter Miami has been making all season. With big name signings and an influx of investment money, Inter Miami continues to improve on their team identity. That identity is strengthened by a contingent of die hard fans that are eager to see their side perform at the highest level.
Miami’s head coach mentioned that every game played from this point on would be “like a final,” and this weekend’s game was no different. The intensity of the fans, the stakes on the line and rivalries ripe with excitement lent itself to huge moments for both teams.
Leandro González Pirez was over the moon with his decisive goal on the weekend. The captain suffered a yellow card early in the game with a challenge against Daryl Dike, but stayed on the straight and narrow to avoid further bookings.
Galvanizing the troops as a team captain is no easy task. But the way LGP was commended by his team in celebration of that goal shows how much respect he commands in the locker room. With three games left until the commencement of Miami’s inaugural season, everyone will need to play their part in order to secure desired results.
INTER MIAMI CF REMAINING MLS FIXTURES
10/28 FC Dallas (Away)
11/1 Toronto FC (Away)
11/8 Cincinnati FC (Home)