ATLANTA – Inter Miami CF (11W-5D-16L, 38 points) narrowly fell 2-1 to Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night.
“I thought we played some brilliant fútbol, I thought the determination of the team was fantastic, I thought the collective system, the efforts of the players, the belief of the players to win a game of fútbol was as good as it’s been on the road,” said head coach Phil Neville. “I think we created probably more chances today than what we’ve done all season in any game away from home and we just need to take our chances.”
Inter Miami made three changes to the starting lineup from its 5-1 win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday; Nicolás Figal returned from injury, Leandro González Pirez returned from suspension and Jay Chapman once again slotted into the starting XI, replacing Aimé Mabika, Blaise Matuidi and Federico Higuaín.
The match opened at a frenetic pace with both sides creating opportunities in transition. Inter Miami pressed the hosts well, launching several counterattacks, including a 14th minute opportunity that saw Gonzalo Higuaín play Kelvin Leerdam into the box, whose powerful shot drew a save from Brad Guzan.
More attacking opportunities arose for the visitors, including an 18th minute combination between Higuaín and Lewis Morgan that resulted in a saved shot by Morgan, and a 27th minute corner that was flicked on to Morgan, whose lunging effort went over the bar.
In the 32nd minute Inter Miami opened the scoring. Moments earlier, Brek Shea played a ball over the defense and into the box that met the run of Morgan, who was crashed into by Guzan, resulting in a penalty. Higuaín stepped up and calmly sent Guzan the wrong way, slotting his penalty inside the post for a goal and the 0-1 lead. The goal was Higuaín’s 12th of the campaign and sent the team into the break with the lead on the road.
Atlanta, however, responded in the second half. In the 59th minute, Luiz Araújo curled a free kick under the wall and into the back of the net for the equalizer. In the 73rd minute, the hosts took the lead as Araújo played a through ball for Josef Martínez behind the defense and the striker curled a shot from just inside of the box into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
Inter Miami responded with constant attacking threat in search of the equalizer, but a strong performance from Guzan denied the team despite mounting pressure, resulting in a 2-1 loss.
Inter Miami will return home for its next match, taking on New York City FC at DRV PNK Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 1:30 p.m. ET for the Club’s Fan Appreciation Match presented by Publix.
Inter Miami CF contributed to the column