Inter Miami and Philadelphia Union are both desperate for three points. Philly has only lost one time in their last five matches, but they haven’t found the win that their play has deserved.
Miami dropped two straight before allowing DC United to charge back from two goals down for a demoralizing draw last weekend.
Both teams are hungry, and both know the other needs a confidence-boosting victory. This match will be about heart, endurance, and finding an extra gear when it’s needed. Get ready for a wild match.
Intriguingly, these clubs have very similar stats on the surface right now. The Union average 11.45 shots per match according to AmericanSoccerAnalysis, while Miami is shooting 11.64 times each game. Philly allows 13.09 shots against, and Miami lets a nearly-equal 13.00 shots against them.
But advanced metrics tell an interesting story about what kinds of shots each club takes and allows.
On their 11.45 shots per game, the Union’s Expected Goals number is just over 1.50. Miami’s 11.64 shots only garners them about 1.00 xG per match, a stark difference.
The visitors are far closer to 1.50 in Expected Goals Allowed at 1.46, while Philly is currently the only club in MLS below 1.00 in Expected Goals against with an impressive 0.94.
In short, Philly is fighting for a win but has been putting in impressive performances, while Miami is chasing a win but in the bottom third of MLS defensively.
But don’t chalk this one up for the Union just yet — missing Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza up top, Jim Curtin will need Daniel Gazdag to get some important support from Sergio Santos and Cory Burke.
Paxten Aaronson’s impressive showing for Union II on Monday could also earn the attacker a chance to flaunt his skill in front of a club recently — and often — linked with Lionel Messi.
But in the end, this match will come down to defense. The Union have been exceptional defensively in 2022, but their rare lapses have cost them dearly. And without the services of Jose Martinez, who will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation, keeping Miami off the board becomes a more difficult task.
Curtin could opt for Leon Flach, who performed the defensive midfielder’s duties in the US Open Cup against Orlando City. Or he could pull Jack Elliott up from the back line and insert Stuart Findlay as his left-sided centerback. Elliott’s distribution could prove to be key against a Miami side that hasn’t proven adept at counterpressing over the course of a full match.
Again though, there are the numbers and the planning — and then there’s the reality of two teams looking at their recent records and fighting with their hearts on their sleeves for a win.
Make sure you’re there on May 18th at Subaru Park at 7:30 p.m. for a big east coast showdown.