Inter Miami CF marched on to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup with a 0-1 victory over cross-town opponents Miami FC on Saturday, April 19, in the club’s first-ever appearance in the competition.
After pressuring the hosts in the final third for the majority of the match, Inter Miami increased the intensity and Leonardo Campana found the back of the net in the 83rd minute. Goalkeeper Drake Callender, meanwhile, rallied the defense and made three crucial saves to preserve Inter Miami’s lead and clean sheet.
Addressing the media after the match, Callender expressed what the victory meant to the team.
“This game means so much to us. We’re trying to build momentum, win after win. Coming off a win in Seattle, and with this win under our belt, it’s huge going into this weekend and the rest of the year.”
The goalkeeper praised the chemistry that the team is cultivating, and commented on their collective work ethic.
“We just believe in each other. We show up every single game we’re on the same page. Everyone works hard. It’s still early in the season with a lot of new guys, and now we are really starting to bond and understand each other, and it’s starting to show on the field.”
Head Coach Phil Neville also noted the result of the team’s tightening bonds and camaraderie.
“It was a brilliant game of fútbol. I’m glad we won, they gave us a scare. You can see at the end the spirit that’s been built. They all want to be together and they all want to share these moments together. On Sunday, we can make history for this club by trying to win four games, something we’ve never done.”
Neville also lauded the efforts of Callender, whose second half heroics aided in maintaining a clean sheet for the team.
“He looked composed. He does things that modern day keepers don’t tend to do, such as catch the ball. A lot of keepers punch the ball. He never fumbles the ball, he looks so assured. I think he has the attributes to be a real top keeper.”
Individual praise aside, Callender was adamant that the team’s success was paramount.
“It feels good; it’s a product of all the hard work I put in, and getting the opportunity to showcase my skills and play a part in a win is huge. If I can do my part and keep the balls out of the back of the net, then I trust my team to win games. It was a collective effort. I was just proud I was able to have a positive action.”
Inter Miami CF is back in action at DRV PNK Stadium this Sunday, April 24, as they host Atlanta United FC at 1 p.m. ET.