Loss In New York: Own Goal Dooms The Herons Against NYCFC

NYCFC Herons

Yankee Stadium, NYC –  In a real bird fight, the NYCFC Pigeons pecked down the Inter Miami CF Herons 1-0 Saturday night in the Bronx. The Herons were coming off back-to-back wins to start the season over CF Montreal and a massive win at home vs. the Philadelphia Union. Their first road game would see an unfortunate own goal by Miami center-back Chris McVey that was enough to seal Miami’s fate.

Inter Miami’s Starting XI remained the same as the previous week, with defender Franco Negri in the lineup after being listed day-to-day during the week.

Kick Off

Five minutes into the game, Negri is booked with a yellow card for committing a foul and protesting vehemently to the referee.

The Herons pushed up the pitch early on, pressing and trying to pin NYC on their side, but NY was comfortable moving the ball out of tight spaces.

Near the 20′ minute, Nico Stefanelli slipped a ball through to Josef Martinez who touched it past NY goalie Luis Barraza and into the net. The goal was disallowed on an offside call against Martinez who has yet to score for Miami in his first three matches with the team.

Matias Pelligrini answered quickly for the Pigeons with a sonic boom blast past Drake Callender at the 22′ minute that was also called back for an offside infraction.

After some nice buildup in the midfield, Rodrigo Pizarro served a ball into the box for Josef Martinez who proceeded to have his shot go high over the crossbar. Martinez is inching closer to scoring his first goal with the Herons but has not been able to finish his opportunities so far.

NYCFC got on the scoreboard at the 35′ minute when a free-kick cross into the box was inadvertently tapped in by Chris McVey for the own goal. An unfortunate moment for McVey who is one of Miami’s best defenders, but it’s part of the game.

The first half would end 1-0, with NYCFC on top in a highly contested game.

The second half action belonged to NYCFC, with the boys from the Bronx creating multiple chances to increase their lead, but a fabulous Drake Callender denied them all. Inter Miami had some approximations on the NYC goal but couldn’t consolidate any of them. The match would end 1-0 with NYCFC handing Inter Miami their first loss of the season.

Postgame Press Conference

The press conference gave us some interesting soundbites to analyze what Coach Neville and Drake Callender had to say after the loss. Coach Neville was philosophical about the defeat,

“We just have to keep developing, keep getting better, keep improving, keep working hard. We played the first, second and third best teams in the conference last season. And we beat two and probably should’ve got something from this game.”

Inter Miami has six out of a possible nine points after playing their first three matches, at this point last season they had one point. The marked improvement is the reason for optimism given the fact that the Herons played well enough for a tie in an extremely hard venue to play in on the road.

As I said before, there are no moral victories in pro sports, but there are lessons to be learned and performances to be analyzed. The Herons are a better team than last season and have yet to play at their full potential.

I asked Drake Callender about Neville’s comments to the team after the game, and also about how his growing stature as a star goalkeeper in the league affects his leadership role on the team.

Final Thoughts

Inter Miami CF currently sits in a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference after three tough games played. It doesn’t really get much easier down the road, but this promising start compared to last season should provide some reason for optimism to the fanbase.

Josef Martinez keeps inching closer to regaining his form and scoring some goals. It’s been tough to watch Josef miss some chances he normally makes. Once Martinez and Leo Campana team up with both in great form, the Herons should be dangerous and very difficult to shut out.

Nicolas Stefanelli has yet to take off for Miami. I expected a faster more productive start from the Argentine player who showed a lot of promise in the preseason. It’s only three games in, but I’m hoping to see something from him soon.

Bryce Duke has also started slow for Inter Miami. The young player has a real opportunity to earn more playing time and even a starter’s role but hasn’t done much to show he’s earned it.

The glue in the midfield for Inter Miami, Gregore, will be out indefinitely due to an injury on his foot. Gregore leaves a huge void and I’m curious to see how Neville manages the situation.

The game against Toronto has to be a bounce-back game for many players and for the squad as a whole. A loss will wither away the momentum the team currently has and could cast doubt on the team.

The Herons battled hard and lost a tough game on the road against a good NYCFC team, all is not lost. Let’s hope the team can reclaim their winning ways in Toronto playing without Captain Gregore.

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