Inter Miami CF (8W-5D-9L, 29 points) earned a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night, keeping its third consecutive clean sheet and extending its unbeaten streak to five. Heineken Man of the Match Gonzalo Higuaín scored the winning goal.
Inter Miami started the match with two changes to the starting lineup from the team’s 0-1 win over FC Cincinnati; Rodolfo Pizarro and Robbie Robinson returned to the XI in place of Kelvin Leerdam and Indiana Vassilev, sliding Lewis Morgan back to right wingback.
Inter Miami opened the match as the aggressor on the evening, putting together dangerous patterns of play through the opening 15 minutes. The team was rewarded for its efforts in the 16th minute; Gonzalo Higuaín intercepted a backpass and dinked a shot over the onrushing keeper for the opening goal. The goal was his ninth of the campaign, the most on the team. He also leads the team with five assists.
Five minutes later, the hosts nearly netted a second goal; Pizarro slid a through ball to Robinson making a long run down the left wing. The forward then cut onto his right foot on the edge of the box and curled a shot towards the inside of the far post, but he was denied by a diving save by Eloy Room.
Inter Miami had one more significant chance to double its lead before halftime; in the 42nd minute, Higuaín took on a defender, beating him with a dribble and ripped a powerful shot from long distance, but it narrowly missed the mark, sending the match into halftime with a 1-0 lead for the hosts.
The second half required a stronger defensive effort from Inter Miami, beginning with a crucial defensive header by Nicolás Figal in the 71st minute to deny a cross from arriving at the head of Gyasi Zardes in front of goal.
Nick Marsman was also called into action on a pair of occasions in the second half, fist making an acrobatic diving save in the 82nd minute and later making another in the first minute of stoppage time.
The team was also guided to victory by the contributions of its second-half substitutes, Julián Carranza, Victor Ulloa and Jay Chapman.
Heineken Man of the Match
Gonzalo Higuaín was once again voted Heineken Man of the Match after scoring the winning goal with a delicate chip over the keeper in the first half.
“It was a hard-fought victory against the best team in the country last season. I had a feeling all day that it was going to be a grind-it-out type of performance," said head coach Phil Neville. "We’re showing all of the qualities that people probably from outside the club didn’t think that this team had...We’ve got tremendous momentum. We go to Toronto with the same kind of determination."
September 11 Remembrance Initiatives
To honor our first responder heroes, Inter Miami hosted a First Responders Fútbol Tournament between Broward County and Miami-Dade County at the Inter Miami CF Training Center. The first responders of each county teamed up to play on the AutoNation Community Field and congregate for an afternoon of fútbol, food and to honor in unity with the fallen heroes of the past.
Saturday’s match included numerous recognitions to honor the nation’s heroes in remembrance of the tragic events that occurred 20 years ago on September 11, 2001. Operation Sergeant Major Steven Webley joined the AutoNation pregame show on My33 and the Inter Miami App. The first responders that participated in Friday’s fútbol tournament were invited to the match and held one of the United States flags that will be displayed during the national anthem ceremony. The national anthem was performed by Kennedi Nikol. A moment of silence was also held prior to the start of the match in remembrance of the fallen heroes of September 11, 2001. Inter Miami, along with all Major League Soccer (MLS) teams, wore special patches on their kits.
Inter Miami will face a quick turnaround as the team travels to Canada to face Toronto FC at BMO Field on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET.