It was one of the most anticipated match up of the round. Years of talking points on the internet, memes, divided loyalties, and political agendas led to Tuesday night’s game. Inter Miami CF of MLS made the trek down to … Miami to finally play in Miami-Dade County against established club Miami FC of the USL Championship. A great turnout of 11,153 at FIU Stadium got to see history as the first Miami Clasico was played in the Third Round of the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The match was tightly-contested with Inter Miami edging the hosts 1-0 on an 83rd minute goal by Leonardo Campana to give the club a win in its US Open Cup debut.
The ball rolled off with both teams being cautious and testing each other’s limits. Inter Miami had trouble breaking down Miami FC’s shape and didn’t create many offensive opportunities. Around 25 minutes in, Miami FC became the dominant force and made multiple attempts at opening up the scoring; none were successful and defended well by Inter.
In the final minutes of the first half, Inter Miami earned not one, not two, but five yellow cards in quick succession. Going into the halftime break, Miami FC had the upper hand as Inter had to make changes to address their tactics and the collection of yellow cards they accumulated.
Inter Miami made two changes before the start of the second half, with head coach Phil Neville taking off two of his yellow carded players (Jairo Quinteros and Noah Allen) and bringing on Christopher McVey and U.S. National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin. Their impact was felt instantly as Inter came out attacking. A scramble inside the box in the 50th minute saw three attempts on goal made by Inter but all were either blocked or saved by Miami FC’s defense.
As the half went on, Inter kept bending Miami FC but their defense would not break. Risk management was taken into consideration as yellow carded players from Inter kept being subbed off, lessening the risk of a red being given for a second offense. The best opportunity for a goal from Miami FC came in the 74th minute with Florian Valot taking an on-target free kick which was saved by Drake Callender.
With no more substitutions left with less than 15 minutes remaining, it was clear Phil Neville intended to finish off the game in regulation and needed a late goal to seal it.
In the 83rd minute, substitute Christopher McVey chipped the ball into the box, which allowed teammate Robert Taylor to assist Leonardo Campana’s game-winning goal. One of the last actions of the game saw Damion Lowe get his second yellow card of the night, which sent him off & made him ineligible for the next round. That will be something Inter Miami will have to address in the next round as they saw out the final seconds and won the game 1-0, eliminating Miami FC.
While the scoreline and the history books will show Inter Miami as the victors, the South Florida soccer community showed up and were the real winners. Getting over eleven thousand spectators on a Tuesday night against an NBA playoff game plus an Major League Baseball game going on at the same time is no small accomplishment. The stadium was rocking the entire night with both sets of supporters groups willing their teams on. It was finally a showcase to the country, and the local community. It was a testimate to the sports potential in the city’s crowded sports and entertainment landscape.
“This needs to happen more,” said Neville about the atmosphere at the stadium.
Neville went on to say that Inter Miami is making the Open Cup a top priority: “This is a competition we’re going to go for.”
With the club’s stated ambition of being a regular participant in the CONCACAF Champions League, Inter Miami are a team to keep an eye on in the 2022 edition of the tournament as they chase the cup and a berth into the CCL.
With the win, Inter Miami advance to Round 4 where they will host USL League One side South Georgia Tormenta FC on May 10 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.