Phil Neville believes Inter Miami have proved they have turned a corner by winning without performing to the best of their abilities.
Neville’s side beat FC Cincinnati thanks to a late Brek Shea winner on Saturday, and they now face another Ohio side in the form of reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew.
Despite their dismal start to the season, Miami are now just a point behind Columbus after a run of four games unbeaten, with three wins.
Though he was not thrilled with the performance against Cincinnati, Neville thinks it proves how much Miami have improved that they can now win without playing particularly well.
“A sign of a good team is when you win and play poorly,” Neville said.
“When you score late goals, that’s a really good sign. The spirit in the dressing room is fantastic.
“Winning away from home in this league, as I’ve experienced, is really difficult. You’re up against the away crowd, the travel, different conditions, good teams that want to play well in front of their own supporters. To get three points on the road is really good.”
Columbus, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last eight matches and are in a congested race for the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
And Caleb Porter was left frustrated with a poor first-half display in last week’s 3-2 defeat to Orlando City.
“I felt the result was there for the taking, especially in the second half the way we crawled back into the game to make it 2-2,” Porter said.
“We knew it was going to be a game where we were thin. We didn’t have a ton of subs, but I felt a great fight in the second half, just disappointed to not get something out of the game and also disappointed with a few performances in the first half.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Inter Miami – Gonzalo Higuain
Higuain is Miami’s leading scorer in 2021, with eight goals, though he has not netted in five matches, since scoring in the win over Nashville SC on August 9.
Columbus Crew – Miguel Berry
Berry has scored three goals in his last two matches and is now the team’s joint-second-leading scorer this season with four to his name.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first-ever meeting between Inter Miami and the Crew. Columbus’s last trip to Miami came in June 2001, a 4-3 defeat at the Fusion.
– Miami has won five of its last eight matches (D2 L1) as only New England (19) has more points than Miami’s 17 in that time. Miami has won all four of its home matches in that run after winning just five of its first 16 home MLS matches (D4 L7).
– The Crew have lost seven of their last eight games (W1) including four straight defeats on the road. Columbus has managed just two wins in its last 24 away matches (D9 L12) dating back to late 2019.
– Brek Shea’s 90th-minute winning goal against FC Cincinnati on Saturday was the third match-winning goal scored in the 90th minute or later by Miami this season.
– New York City FC (2) is the only other team with multiple 90th-minute winners in 2021.