For the first time since the MLS Shutdown on March 12, the top flight of American Men’s Soccer in the country will get their first game. Tonight at 8 p.m., Inter Miami CF will take on Orlando City at the ESPN Complex at Walt Disney World.
Even though the game will be played with no fans in the stands, the excitement from supporters has been building ever since the league announced this tournament and that the game of the tournament would be this intrastate match-up.
The first match will be crucial as both teams will try to snag all three points and put themselves in pole position of Group A to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. If the teams tie at the end of the 90 minutes then each team will just receive one point.
Depth & Stamina
Fully expect depth to be a key factor in this one. The MLS is Back Tournament will allow for five substitutions, as opposed to the usual three, so the chances of a player that is brought on and makes an impact are increased. The first game after the long layoff will result in some heavy and tired legs at the end of the game. The better conditioned team and the squad that utilizes the extra subs has the higher chance of being the winner in this one.
Managers: Diego Alonso v. Oscar Pareja
The long break gave the two managers who are both entering their first season for their respective clubs an extended chance of preaching their principles and values on their players. Whichever side was able to absorb more of their manager’s playstyle may have a better chance of coming out on top.
The managers have split the match-ups between them in the past. Alonso led C.F Pachuca defeated Pareja’s F.C Dallas by an aggregate score of 4-3 in the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in 2017 before Alonso lost to Pareja in 2019 in a Liga MX match.
Inter Miami’s Striker
With Robbie Robinson, who started the first two games out, there will be an opportunity for Juan Agudelo and Julian Carranza to prove that they should be the starter for the tournament. The battle to secure the starting spot as the lead forward for Inter Miami could be extra motivation for these two to put the ball in the back of the net tonight.
Nani may be the player with the most international prestige on the pitch and containing his impact on the game should be a focal point in Inter Miami’s defensive game plan. He’s played for Manchester United and won the European Cup with Portugal and scored 12 goals in the MLS last season. It’s expected to be his first action of the MLS season as he missed OCSC first two games as a result of a suspension that carried over from last year.
Prediction: First Win In Club History
I expect Inter Miami to come out on top in this game 2-0 with the goals coming from Juan Agudelo and Lewis Morgan with Luis Robles able to keep his first clean sheet for the club.