Young Herons Lead Inter Miami To A 2-2 Draw At DC United

Audi Field- Inter Miami CF and DC United played to a 2-2 draw Saturday night in a dramatic and history-making match. Benjamin Cremaschi and Noah Allen netted their first-ever MLS goals marking the first time two Academy alumni scored in the same game. The match also featured six Academy products on the pitch in a game for the first time in Inter Miami’s short history.

Kick Off

The Starting XI for Inter Miami CF remained almost identical to the previous match versus the Columbus Crew with the exception of Josef Martinez replacing Leo Campana at striker for Miami.

DC and Miami played a rather dull first half in which neither team showed much on the pitch.

Nico Stefanelli went down injured after a shot on goal and was replaced by 17-year-old Israel Boatwright at the 29′ minute. The injury forced Coach Morales to adjust by placing Boatwright at right wing-back and moving Cremaschi higher up the pitch in the midfield.

The initial half showed some chippiness that would remain throughout the match and fester. DC United dominated the last minutes of the initial half and could have gotten on the scoreboard, but Drake Callender was wonderful in goal for Miami denying DC each attempt.

The second period was more upbeat with the squads going at each other with a playoff intensity. Taxis Fountas and Ian Fray chirped at each other every opportunity they got and even got physical with Fountas getting booked with a yellow card for a foul on Fray.

Benjamin Cremaschi scored his first MLS goal in brilliant fashion with a banger to put Miami ahead 1-0 in the 59′ minute. Cremaschi received a pass from Robert Taylor, took a touch, and unloaded a missile into the DC net.

The lead once again was short-lived as DC United answered with a nice sequence of passes that ended with a Taxis Fountas curbing blast that went past a diving Drake Callender in the 65′ minute making it 1-1. Fountas’ celebration was provocative and heated the game up even more. Taxis is surely Inter Miami’s most despised opponent.

Noah Allen netted his first goal off a low free-kick into the DC United box which went past every player and into the corner net untouched.  The fortuitous goal put Miami up 2-1 in the 68′ minute, just three minutes after DC had tied the match.

Less than ten minutes later Nigel Robertha tapped a low cross-service into the Miami net and past Callender. The Herons have seen several goals scored in this manner against them this season. The far post is left uncovered and opposing players simply knock it into the net.

Alas, Inter Miami once again failed to maintain a lead in a game. On the bright side, it’s the third game in a row adding a point, unlike the seven previous matches which were all losses. Now on to St. Louis City and Tata Martino’s first match.

Postgame Press Conference

In Javier Morales’ last press conference as Interim Coach for Miami, I asked Javier about his stint and any lessons learned along the way. Morales is also a young coach getting his first experience at the MLS level and this is what he said,

To be honest it was like a Master’s for me…Five minutes into my first game I got the red card on the team and I had to start to make decisions right away…Then players that got injured, players that got called up to the National team, I had to start to play the young players, we don’t have enough time to train, there was like a rollercoaster for me.

Javier rode the rollercoaster at high speed while on its way down and along the way figured out how to maneuver it to more stable tracks. In five weeks of coaching everything but the kitchen sink was thrown his way and he managed to survive. He leaves the team in a more stable place than when he received it and hands it off to Tata Martino with some momentum for the climb ahead.

Benjamin Cremaschi let me know that the young Herons are naturally gritty and feisty and despite their youth, they will be respected on the pitch.

We’re young players but we need to be respected too…We’re not scared of anyone…We die for each other on that field, we protect each other.

Respect is earned, and the youthful ballers for Miami are earning their respect on the pitch, with solid performances and great effort. A youth movement means energy, but it also means mistakes and growing pains.  Inter Miami is building a solid core for the future and for right now.

Final Thoughts

Tata Martino will coach his first game for Miami Saturday night against St. Louis City. The reinforcements are headed to Miami with Tata being the first. Messi and Friends will be introduced on July 16 and play their first match wearing Inter Miami CF colors on July 21 against Mexican side Cruz Azul for the Leagues Cup. The roller coaster Javi Morales talked about is about to take a turn and head up the tracks.

The Inter Miami injury curse this season has been terrible, yet it has allowed the young Herons to play and gain valuable experience. The young men have shown they belong and are trending upwards. The future is bright for Miami, but the new acquisitions are needed right now.

“Avengers Assemble!!” Messi and Friends are almost here, and the city is about to explode with enthusiasm. Despite the GOAT not being in the prime age of his career, he is still an extremely productive player and will immediately elevate the quality on this team and in this league. Busquets and Jordi Alba are also quality players that add a mystique that Inter Miami has never had. Champions are headed to Miami, and that can only be a good thing.

Currently, Miami sits eight points out of the ninth spot, the final playoff seed. There are thirty-nine points in play for the remainder of the season,  of which thirty-six will have Messi and Friends play for Miami. I like the team’s odds of making the playoffs despite the gloomy situation at the moment.

Breathe in, breathe out, and let out a shout! A new season is about to begin for Inter Miami CF.

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