Inter Miami CF (6W-5D-9L, 23 points) earned a hardfought point against Orlando City SC on Friday night, playing to a scoreless draw at Exploria Stadium. The team was led to the result by Heineken Man of the Match Nick Marsman, who helped the team keep its second clean sheet of the season.
Inter Miami fielded a starting XI with one change from Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Toronto FC; Blaise Matudidi returned to the starting lineup in place of Gregore, who missed the match due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. With Gregore unavailable, Leandro González Pirez once again donned the captain’s armband for Inter Miami.
It was a slow start for Inter Miami as the hosts controlled much of the opening moments of the match. Just as the visitors appeared to be settling into the proceedings, however, a penalty was called for Orlando in the 11th minute, but Nick Marsman was prepared for the challenge, diving to his right to deny Tesho Akindele from the spot and keep the match scoreless.
Inter Miami responded with a pair of chances of its own after the 20-minute mark; first Robbie Robinson pressured the hosts, creating a series of opportunities with strong play on the ball and a couple of backheel flicks, one which required a touch away from Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Minutes later, a corner from Lewis Morgan was knocked down by LGP and met in front of goal at the far post by Rodolfo Pizarro, where the Mexican then volleyed a strike on goal that drew a reaction save from Gallese.
Each side also had a goal disallowed before the halftime whistle blew. In the 24th minute, Orlando’s Robin Jansson received a short corner outside the corner of the box and struck a powerful shot towards the far post that was redirected into the back of the net by Akindele, who was standing in an offside position. In the third minute of first-half stoppage time, Gonzalo Higuaín appeared to have the opener, latching onto a perfect longball from Blaise Matuidi and deftly chipping a shot into the back of the net, but he was judged to be offside.
Inter Miami was also forced to make a substitution before halftime, bringing on Brek Shea to face his former team after Kieran Gibbs came off injured. Despite the eventful first half, the match entered the break scoreless.
The second half opened at an even pace, with both sides feeling out their opponents and creating half chances, but it was the defenses which held firm.
For Inter Miami, LGP, Christian Makoun and Nicolás Figal each made important defensive interventions in the box, denying Orlando opportunities at goal. In the 84th minute, Marsman and Figal combined to deny the hosts, first with a brilliant diving save by Marsman on a header from a corner, and moments later with clearance off the line by Figal. This proved to be the final moment of significant danger for either side, resulting in a scoreless draw in Orlando.
Heineken Man of the Match
Goalkeeper Nick Marsman was voted the Heineken Man of the Match by fans after he made a pair of spectacular saves and kept his first clean sheet in Inter Miami colors, guiding the team to just its second clean sheet of the season.
“We’re pleased with another point on the road. We’ve got a lot of away games coming up and I thought tonight we showed the quality that’s needed when you’re on the road, the fight and determination. We’re building momentum and we had some real heroic performances,” said head coach Phil Neville.
Inter Miami will hit the road again next weekend, taking on FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. ET.