New York City FC secured their first league victory of 2020 with a 1-0 win against Inter Miami. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored the only goal of the game to keep NYCFC’s qualification hopes alive, the New Yorkers could progress to the knockout rounds of MLS is Back if results work in their favour.
As the third-placed team in Group A, NYCFC could move on in the tournament as one of the top four non-qualifiers. In order to progress to the knockout rounds in Orlando, NYCFC must remain in the top four of the wildcard standings.
After a slow first half, both sides grew into the contest after the break. Despite having the better of the chances up until the hour mark, Diego Alonso’s Miami came unstuck after 64 minutes, conceding almost immediately after a water break.
Dropping deep into central midfield, Alexandru Mitrita swivelled in possession, before sending a looping pass over Miami’s defensive line. With the ball hanging in the Floridian air, Tajouri-Shradi broke Miami’s offside trap and fired a low strike beyond the grasp of Luis Robles.
Keaton Parkes came close to extending NYCFC’s lead shortly after Tajouri-Shradi’s opener, but his effort was thwarted by a smart stop from Robles.
Despite creating a number of half-chances from set-plays, Miami were largely inefficient in attack despite Rodolfo Pizzaro’s virtuoso contributions. To add insult to injury for Miami, Juan Agudelo was dismissed for a second a bookable offence in injury time.
The result, Miami’s fifth consecutive defeat, means that Alonso’s side have endured the worst start to an expansion season in MLS history. The Herons have lost each of their first five matches in MLS by a margin of one goal.
Inter Miami: Fine margins continue to dampen debut season
Despite playing against a number of the strongest sides in MLS, Miami are yet to be taken apart in their debut season. Alonso’s side were competitive against LAFC in March, albeit versus a roster somewhat distracted by the Concacaf Champions League.
Pizzaro’s talents are clear for all to see, but the Mexican international cannot carry his side in the style of Carlos Vela. Unfortunately for Alonso, Paul McDonagh and David Beckham, Pizzaro is often isolated in Miami’s side.
Lewis Morgan was a smart acquisition. Robbie Robinson showed glimpses of promise before picking-up his injury. Will Trapp and Ben Sweat are both solid USMNT acquisitions for an expansion team. This team has potential.
“We have things to improve. We're self-critical and we have to do more. Now we have a number of weeks of work and expect to then start the regular season,” said manager Diego Alonso. “You have to know how to react. When the road is tough, only the tough ones walk. We have a clear direction and obligation.”
Miami are agonisingly close to being a very solid team in MLS. The Herons won’t suffer in the same manner as FC Cincinnati in their expansion season, but Alonso’s side need to discover their golden touch. Under the Florida sun, progress has been slow in Miami.
NYCFC: Victory papers of the cracks for Deila
At last, NYCFC have their first MLS victory under Deila. It took five matches for the Norwegian tactician to get on the board, but victory over Miami has given the New Yorkers a slim chance of making into the knockout stages.
Despite taking all three points, New York were unconvincing against an expansion side yet to find its feet. Given the financial resources available to the City Group franchise, New York’s disappointing start to the season mustn't be forgotten.
For a team that has struggled under a new coach, this victory papers over the cracks.