The Herons Lose Their Sixth Straight, Neville’s Job In Jeopardy

Inter Miami Houston Dynamo

Shell Energy Stadium Houston, TX – Inter Miami CF could not capitalize on the multiple scoring opportunities they created Saturday night against Houston Dynamo FC and lost their sixth straight match, falling 1-0. Houston defender Daniel Steres put a shot past Drake Callender at the 72′ minute to give the Dynamo the victory. The result has Miami dropping to the fourteenth spot in the Eastern Conference, putting Neville’s job security in question.

Kick Off

The Starting XI for the Herons had multiple surprises, with new acquisitions Kamal Miller and Dixon Arroyo cracking the lineup after Coach Neville had told the press they were unavailable earlier in the week. Rodolfo Pizarro and Corentin Jean were also given the chance to start in Houston by Neville, the rest of the starters remained the same from the previous match against FC Dallas.

Two minutes into match play newcomer Dixon Arroyo was given his welcome to MLS moment when forward Amine Bassi faked him out of his cleats and forced him to foul Bassi from behind. Arroyo seemed a bit jittery early in the match but then found his rhythm as the game went along.

The game plan for Inter Miami versus Houston appeared to call for more vertical play and less possession of the ball, a shift from their usual ball possession style. The change was productive in creating several scoring chances for Miami in the first half that were not taken advantage of.

Franco Negri crossed a ball into Leo Campana in the 7′ minute that was headed directly to goalkeeper Steve Clark by the Miami striker.

In the 10′ minute Pizarro laid a ball off to Coco Jean whose shot was deflected just wide of the goal by a Houston defender.

Coco Jean attempted a side volley at the 19′ minute that sailed high over the crossbar.

Negri made a run inside the Houston box at the 26′ minute and laid a pass off to Campana who had his one-touch shot blocked by Steve Clark, the rebound went back to Leo who smashed his shot off the goalpost.

Near the end of the half at the 44′ minute, Rodolfo Pizarro served a pass back to Coco Jean whose left-footed strike was easily corralled by Clark.

Miami and Houston both created chances, but neither could score sending the teams to the break tied 0-0.

In the second half both squads once again pushed forward, but it was Houston that broke through at the 72′ minute with a goal by Houston defender Daniel Steres.

In the play, Steres was marked by an out-of-position Franco Negri, but the greater breakdown came from Rodolfo Pizarro as he let Corey Baird float into the box while he stood by idle. A solo Baird headed a cross into the middle of the box and right to Steres who nailed the ball past Drake Callender. Houston went up 1-0 and would maintain the score despite Inter Miami’s impetus to try and score all the way to the final whistle.

The defeat seemed too high a price for the Herons, but if you don’t score, you can’t win.

Postgame Press Conference

Instead of starting his press conference with his usual postgame speech, Neville immediately fielded questions. I asked Phil what he said to his team in the locker room after suffering a sixth straight loss,

“I told them they have to keep believing, that the 20 shots on goal will eventually turn to goals if you keep believing and you keep playing to that level.”

The things that have happened to Inter Miami CF during these last six lost games are beyond explanation to me. In my opinion, Miami has played better than their opponents in four of those games but has zero points to show for them. The cold hard facts are that unless somehow the Herons start scoring goals this slumber will not go away.

I asked Franco Negri if in his career he has ever endured a situation like the one he is living with Inter Miami CF, a team that has lost many games in a row, playing well in most of those games, yet unable to score a goal,

“Yes, in different teams I’ve had these situations; this is football. Like I tell you, there have been teams in this situation and have won the championship. It’s about believing, having confidence and everyone united with the same goal.”

Having Negri and Neville talk about believing had me thinking about the song “Don’t Stop Believing,” by the band Journey. It’s tough to believe when the results are not there, but it seems like the Coach and the players still have faith in making something out of this season.

Final Thoughts

“Don’t stop believing, hold on to that feeling!” I guess this is the theme song for this season for Inter Miami CF, and they are asking a lot from the fans. The frustration is bubbling over, especially when this season was expected to be even better than last season.

Wednesday night against Miami FC in US Open Cup seems to be do-or-die time for Phil Neville. He has been able to overcome many setbacks in his tenure with Inter Miami CF, but a loss to Miami FC might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Regardless of how well the team plays Wednesday night, the Herons must walk away with a win. A loss will be total mayhem for the organization and would probably force Chris Henderson and the owners to make a move.

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