Inter Miami-Orlando City Preview

Sports

Say this much for David Beckham, he’s putting his European connections to good use quickly as owner of Inter Miami.

Having created what appears to be a pipeline from Turin to South Beach, Inter Miami CF appear on the verge of another marquee acquisition ahead of Saturday’s derby showdown with Orlando City SC.

It was not that Inter (2-6-2) were able to land World Cup winner and France international Blaise Matuidi as much as it was they did not have to use the last of their three Designated Player spots for the standout midfielder. Inter was able to land the former Juventus and Paris-Saint Germain man with Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), leaving that last DP spot open.

Beckham, though, appears to have found the player for that role in striker Gonzalo Higuain. The former Argentina international agreed on terms with Juventus to leave the Serie A champions and join Inter, greeted by owner Jorge Mas upon landing in Miami on Friday, and will be eligible to play once he completes a self-quarantine period.

The 32-year-old has been a world-class scorer for most of his career, scoring 107 goals for Real Madrid, another 71 in 104 matches for Napoli and 48 in 105 contests for Juventus. Over the 2018-19 season, he was loaned out to both AC Milan and Chelsea, picking up 11 goals in 29 appearances.

Higuain has been part of six domestic title-winning teams – three apiece with Real and Juventus — and was on the Argentina side that finished runner-up to Germany at the 2014 World Cup. He totaled 31 goals in 75 international appearances for La Albiceleste, highlighted by his match-winner in the 2014 quarterfinals versus Belgium.

As Higuain’s grabs the attention, Inter are riding their first three-match unbeaten streak in club history after a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United on Wednesday night. Lewis Morgan bracketed Eric Remedi’s goal for the Five Stripes with two of his own 10 minutes apart, scoring the first with his right foot and the second with a left-footed volley.

Keeper Luis Robles preserved the lead by stopping a penalty just before halftime, and Matuidi helped Inter protect the lead over the final half-hour in his second appearance as they improved to 2-1-2 in the last five matches.

“We felt like the bounces were starting to go our way and for Lewis to get the goal right off the bat, for us to concede right away, and then to come back, really shows how our mindset is developing,” Robles told the club’s official website. “It’s really progressing in the right direction.

“When you consider our run of form coming back from Orlando, we’re 2-1-2…We’ve got a great group of guys here. For us to be able to put it together, to be able to suffer together for 90 minutes, it’s very vindicating for us to get all three points.”

Inter’s improved form began with a 3-2 victory over Orlando City on Aug. 22 when Julian Carranza had a first-half brace and Rodolfo Pizarro added a third just after the restart. Orlando City has gone 2-0-2 since that defeat and are coming off a 1-1 draw versus Atlanta United on Sept. 5.

The Lions were forced to settle for a share of the points after conceding in second-half stoppage time, with Benji Michel providing the offense for the second straight match with a strike in first-half injury time.

“In spite of the frustration of conceding that goal in the last two, three minutes of the game knowing how we worked for the three points during the whole game; it’s difficult,” first-year coach Oscar Pareja said. “But at the same time, I think we need to have calmness and see where we are. I thought today was another good demonstration of what Orlando is doing and once again anything I can say won’t soften the frustration that we have because it’s painful after you have the domination that we had in the first half and the options that we had during the game.”

Rookie Daryl Dike, who had three goals and two assists in five matches, was named MLS Player of the Month for August. The 20-year-old, also the No. 5 overall pick in the SuperDraft, is tied for second on the team with three goals and co-leader with three assists.

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