Inter Miami started their first MLS season playing arguably the most talented team in the league. On Saturday, they could face one of the most motivated clubs in D.C. United at Washington.
While Miami began the season with a 1-0 loss on the road at defending Supporters' Shield holder Los Angeles FC, D.C. United opened the new campaign with a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to the Colorado Rapids. D.C. United lost after Jonathan Lewis' goal in second-half stoppage time.
Now a D.C. United team that lost only six out of its first 34 MLS matches since opening Audi Field in 2018 is trying to avoid back-to-back home defeats to open the season.
"They're in need of points since they weren't able to win their last game playing at home and they will surely be seeking to get the three points," Miami head coach Diego Alonso said. "We've analyzed them. It's a team that works well together as a collective and they will surely make it difficult for us."
Alonso's expansion side held its own in the opener, done in only by an individual moment of brilliance from reigning league MVP Carlos Vela just before halftime. Miami only trailed 21-16 in shots and 9-7 in efforts on target against LAFC, which earned the most points in history during the 2019 regular season.
An early issue for Miami appears to be at center forward, where young Argentine Julian Carranza remains injured. Robbie Robinson, who is a 2020 draft pick, started at striker Sunday but only had one shot and was caught offside five times.
D.C. United won't take anyone lightly after losing to Colorado club that finished ninth in the Western Conference a season ago.
D.C. United are hoping one of the league's deeper rosters can make up for the offseason exit of stars Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta. They bolstered that depth by signing midfielders Federico Higuain and Mohammed Abu this week.
Coach Ben Olsen expects another close contest at Audi Field after watching Miami's opener.
"I thought they were unlucky not to get something out of that game," Olsen said of Miami's loss. "It took sort of a moment of brilliance from Vela. But an entertaining game, and I think they'll pose a lot of challenges for us."
--Field Level Media