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MLS Preview: Inter Miami CF Hosts Orlando City in Their Final Encounter of the Regular Season

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (FNN) – Inter Miami CF will host state rivals Orlando City SC in the final Florida derby of the season.

After Sunday’s 1-1 draw against NYRB, Orlando City clinched a playoff spot for the first time in club history. This weekend’s game against Miami will serve as a primer for the final weeks of MLS action.

This week, Inter Miami CF announced a return for fans in attendance starting with select season ticket holders. The club released a full list of safety protocols and measures that must be followed for fans attending the game. The limited number of tickets will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. Protocols for match attendance in future weeks will be conducted on a weekly basis as well.

Inter Miami CF have been hampered by the injury bug and a few key omissions will plague them this round. In their last outing, Gonzalo Higuain was issued a red card for inappropriate language. He was booked after the official match which will rule him out of this weekend’s encounter. Andrés Reyes and Luis Robles are two other formidable figures that will be missing in action for Inter Miami CF.

Orlando City’s season hit a complete u-turn with the return of MLS this summer. During the MLS is Back Tournament, Orlando City managed a 5-2 overall record, earning themselves a 2nd place finish for the tournament. That positive momentum would soon continue with the MLS restart. Now, Orlando City find themselves on the brink of club history on the backs of a team-wide change in mentality.

The renaissance for Orlando started at the helm with the appointment of Óscar Pareja late last year. The Colombian manager has reignited a tactical flair for the club that hasn’t been seen in years. This development has permeated through the ranks, as promising youth talents like Daryl Dike have become important goalscorers during this run.

The danger when facing Orlando City stems from their versatility. With the number of unselfish ball movers on the pitch, the line of production between Perea, Nani and Mauricio Pereyra have given Orlando a new dimension within the midfield. This play making has lent itself to Orlando City catapulting themselves into 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Regardless of the accolades thus far, the road to playoffs isn’t over yet. Orlando City still have four fixtures against Eastern conference opponents with talented attacking talent. Inter Miami CF is a dangerous opponent that poses multiple threats with or without their Argentine talisman.

In their debut season, Inter Miami CF have already been able to put together a few memorable plays. While a slew of big name signings in Pizarro and Matuidi grabbed headlines, players like Lewis Morgan have been shouldering the load. The Scottish winger has quietly asserted himself as a workhorse for Miami. Five goals and six assists this season is no small feat for a roster teeming with attacking threats.

The Argentinian contingent on Inter Miami CF is also a source of strength for the club. Developing an identity within a team early on is always important for long-term success. Bringing the Higuain brothers together on a team for the first time is an interesting example of the ambitious moves Miami have been making. Inter Miami have the personnel for short term and long term growth with the pieces they have already. Cultivating talents like Julian Carranza in lieu of Gonzalo Higuain’s absence will be crucial in games like these.

Carranza was instrumental in Inter Miami’s 3-2 victory over Orlando last month. For similar results to be repeated, the delivery service towards Miami’s attack needs to take advantage of weaknesses. Weaknesses that will be present in Orlando’s midfield and defense with notable injuries in both departments.

Losing João Moutinho to a groin injury just under two months ago has been destabilizing for Orlando’s defense. The patient left back has given his team a lot when it comes to transition play. With Mauricio Pereyra also medically uncleared, a lot of the cogs in the Orlando City machine won’t be turning quite like they used to. Even still, Orlando City possesses a few tactical tricks up their sleeve that will make this home game difficult for their south beach rivals.

Official Prediction: Inter Miami CF 2-2 Orlando City

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