COLUMBUS, Ohio – Inter Miami CF (9W-5D-15L, 32 points) fell 4-0 to the Columbus Crew in the team’s first visit to Lower.com Field.
“I will never give up in terms of the chase to qualify for the playoffs. If we have to win the next five games, that will be my mentality, the mentality that I pass to my team until it’s mathematically not possible,” said head coach Phil Neville.
Inter Miami made four changes to the starting lineup from last week’s loss to the New York Red Bulls; Christian Makoun, who returned from international duty with Venezuela, slotted back into the XI in place of Extreme Hardship loanee Aimé Mabika, Sami Guediri made his first start since May and second of the season, returning in place of Brek Shea, Gregore returned from a one-match injury absence in place of Jay Chapman, and Indiana Vassilev started in place of Rodolfo Pizarro.
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The team tested Columbus down the left wing in the opening moments of the match, with Guediri sending in a pair of crosses that tested the Columbus goalkeeper, the second of which fell to Gonzalo Higuaín in front of goal, but his follow-up shot was saved by Eloy Room.
Despite continued pressure from the visitors, it was Columbus who struck first; in the 39th minute, Pedro Santos crossed a ball into Gyasi Zardes in the box, who headed a shot inside the far post and into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead; Darlington Nagbe won the ball in Inter Miami’s half, drove forward and played a ball across goal to Santos in the box, who struck and scored to make it 2-0 in the 44th minute. The scoreline held through the halftime whistle, leaving the visitors with the two-goal deficit heading into the final 45 minutes.
Columbus then added to its lead in the 64th minute; Santos made a run down the right wing and crossed into the box, where Zardes rose up and headed the ball down and into the back of the net to make it 3-0.
In the 68th minute, Inter Miami made a notable substitution, bringing on Federico Higuaín against his former club. Higuaín – who starred for the Crew for eight seasons, registering over 50 goals and over 60 assists for the team and winning MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2012 – received a standing ovation from the Columbus crowd upon entering.
In the 83rd minute, however, Columbus extended its lead to four after Miguel Berry’s cross came off an Inter Miami player and found the back of the net to make it 4-0. The scoreline would remain intact for the remainder of the match, resulting in a defeat on the road for Inter Miami.
Inter Miami will return home for its next match on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET when it hosts Toronto FC at DRV PNK Stadium on DRVPNK Night presented by AutoNation.
Inter Miami CF contributed to this column