Chicago Fire Burns Inter Miami CF With A Late Goal Win

Chicago Fire Inter Miami

Photo by Karla Moreno

DRV PNK Stadium – The last place Chicago Fire came into DRV PNK Stadium Saturday night and defeated Inter Miami CF 3-2 with a Kei Kamara 92′ minute game-winning goal. The Herons battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match but were unable to maintain the result. It was Miami’s first loss of the season at home after victories against CF Montreal and Philadelphia Union.

The Starting XI for Inter Miami presented two changes from the previous match against Toronto FC, with Victor Ulloa getting his first start of the season and DeAndre Yedlin slotting back in at right outside-back.

Kick Off

In the first half, the teams went toe-to-toe creating opportunities in both goal areas, but neither squad exercised dominance over the other. Miami had possession but Chicago created chances off counter-attacks often catching the Heron’s outside backs high and out of position.

The first goal of the match came at the 30′ minute when a Victor Ulloa pass up high to Franco Negri was cleared by Chicago and was controlled by Maren Haile-Selassie. Haile- Selassie passed the ball up to Brian Gutiérrez who sent a sizzling cross into the Miami box that was boomed past Drake Callender by a charging Chris Mueller.  The fire took the 1-0 lead.

Before Inter Miami could respond, Chicago Fire got on the scoreboard again at the 37′ minute. A free kick cross by Haile-Selassie found Carlos Terán near the second post, Terán battled for the ball with four Miami players around him and annihilated Drake Callender with a rocket shot into the goal. Chicago led 2-0 and the home crowd was in shock.

Inter Miami would get one back at the 47′ minute when Jean Mota served Franco Negri a wonderful pass from across the pitch, Franco with an exquisite first touch on the ball set himself up for the left-footed finish. The Golazo just before halftime gave Miami momentum and hope. The first half ended 2-1 Chicago with the lead.

The second half saw Miami improve its collective play with some substitutions by Coach Neville. Shanyder Borgelin came in an added physicality at forward, with Ariel Lassiter bringing speed to the attack.

Inter Miami CF tied the game at the 76′ minute with a big header from one of the shortest men on the field, Nico Stefanelli. Nico managed to time his run and beat the Chicago defenders to a wonderful cross by Franco Negri and head it past the goalkeeper. The goal tied the game at 2-2 and sent the home crowd into a jubilant celebration.

The momentum and the game seemed to finally be going Inter Miami’s way, but it was not to be. Kei Kamara, the eternal goal scorer put a shot past Drake Callender at the 92′ minute delivering the dagger. The Herons lost 3-2 to a Chicago Fire team that came in to DRV PNK Stadium and surprised Miami.

Press Conference

During the press conference with Phil, I asked a couple of questions that he answered, and his answers provided some interesting insight and subtle messages. First, I asked Coach Neville about his substitutions of Franco Negri, and Rodolfo Pizarro, two of the players that in my estimation were having good games. Negri had scored a goal and provided the assist for Miami’s second goal, while Pizarro was all over the field, making a great effort for the team.

The coach made us aware that Negri was subbed off due to cramps, and Pizarro was substituted because,

“Rodolfo had run really hard in the game, and what we thought at the end was how can we get goals unto the pitch.. more goals and more energy unto the pitch..and we know that Cremaschi is a goal scorer..”

Benjamin Cremaschi, the young midfielder gets high praise and respect from the coach despite only getting his first steps in as an MLS player. Benja has a bright future as a professional player and has the coaches’ trust, and if he continues to get opportunities surely will only get better. All that being said, I would have liked to have seen Pizarro finish the match and get a chance to grow as a leader of this team.

My second question was in regard to the performance of David Ruiz and Cremaschi, two young players that played well during their time on the pitch against Chicago. Coach Neville went on to mention Harvey Neville and Shanyder Borgelin, praising all four young players for their performances and saying that’s the direction the team is heading.

The line that caught my ear was when Phil said,

“Borgelin is a goal threat, and if he’s better than Josef and Leo, he will play.”

It’s a not-so-subtle hint to Josef, the big-name striker, and Leo Campana the young star, that Shanyder Borgelin is earning consideration for more playing time at the expense of one of them.

Martinez is still not in form and has yet to score for Miami, while Campana has been injured and has not played. It will not surprise me for the Coach to play Borgelin sooner than later at the expense of Martinez or Campana until the stars find their form.

Final Thoughts

Inter Miami CF needed to beat Chicago Fire by any means necessary Saturday night, and they could not do it. A valiant effort to come back from 2-0 down to tie the game at 2-2 was wasted by more silly defensive mistakes by the whole team, but more specifically the outside backs.

Deandre Yedlin had a horrible game against Chicago, he wasn’t sharp and was caught out of position for Chicago’s first goal, and the game-winning goal by Kamara. Inter Miami wants to play out of the back and have their outside backs high up the pitch to offer numbers on the attack. This approach by Miami is a double-edged sword, the attack is amplified with more options and spacing, but it allows for the dangerous counter-attacks Inter Miami has faced that have led to goals against the team.

If the team is not synchronized on attack and defense, then this approach becomes a liability because of all the space it provides teams to counter quickly and in a deadly fashion. Toronto FC made Miami pay, and this week Chicago Fire did the same. Unless the team as a unit becomes better at covering spaces it might make sense to re-assess this approach.

Bryce Duke has had a slow start to this season, he has been given every opportunity to cement himself in the starting lineup and he has failed to do so. Duke has not played badly, but he has been average. Bryce has the ability and experience at this point to be a difference-maker for Miami. I hope he finds his groove, if not I fear he might find himself on the bench.

The team has lost its last three matches, and one of my colleagues asked me if I still believe they are a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. My answer still remains yes, I believe the team has the talent to be a top team, but the players that I expected to step up and shine have not done so so far.

Inter Miami CF has to make adjustments moving forward, and that’s Phil’s job, let us see what he comes up with.

Photo | Karla Moreno

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