After a hard fought battle, Inter Miami II (2W-4L-0D, 6pts) narrowly fell 3-2 against Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday, April 30 at the Historic Crew Stadium. The match saw midfielder Lawson Sunderland and forward Cameron Johnson score their first goals of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with Johnson’s goal coming in his debut for the Club.
Inter Miami’s starting XI featured CJ dos Santos in goal; defenders Noah Allen, Abel Caputo, Ryan Sailor, Nykolas Sessock; midfielders Joseph Convers, Jake LaCava, Lawson Sunderland, Bryan Destin, Dairon Reyes; and forward Lucas Meek.
Matchday six started out with Columbus, the 2022 MLS Next Pro reigning champs, constantly pressuring Miami on the offensive end. The Herons went to work defensively however, keeping Crew under control after only nine of their 20 shots remained on target. Miami’s defense was fueled by dos Santos, who accumulated 6 saves throughout the match.
After a tight first 20 minutes, Miami flipped the game on its head and in the 40th minute Destin snuck through the defensive line to make his way into the opponent’s box before a defender tapped the ball away from him. An open Sunderland, however, flew in and took advantage of the loose ball and finished the play with a right-footed shot that bounced off the post and into the back of the net to register his first goal of the season and give Miami a 0-1 lead before the break.
Miami kept the ball rolling in the second half and was able to extend its lead in the 69th minute through forward Cameron Johnson, who was making his Inter Miami II debut in tonight’s game in Columbus. As Reyes hauled through the pitch, avoiding oncoming defenders, he found an open Johnson who had been subbed in just two minutes prior. Reyes threaded the needle past two unsuspecting defenders, giving Johnson the opportunity to score a left footed shot into the center of the goal, providing Miami a 2-0 cushion.
Columbus weren’t ready to give up their at home win streak, however. Crew brought on four substitutes in the 71st minute, one of which, midfielder Cole Mrowka, scored in the 72nd with a left footed shot from outside of the box into the top left corner to get the hosts back into the game. With their new found momentum, Columbus kept pushing, as striker Noah Fuson leveled the game 2-2 in the 82nd minute with a right footed shot into the center of the goal. Finally, the yellow and black took the 3-2 lead following an 88th header into the back of the net from forward Mataeo Bunbury.
Inter Miami fought to find the equalizer in the remaining minutes, but the hosts held onto their lead to win 3-2.
Inter Miami will now look to bounce back as the team prepares to take on Atlanta United 2 at home on Sunday, May 7. Kickoff at DRV PNK Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.