BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
During the course of the MLS Season, you can see when a team is starting to show signs of confidence and maturity.
When we attended the May 14 match vs DC United, Inter-Miami had more than DC United to deal with on this wet Saturday Night at DRV PNK Stadium.
The club was dealing with Mother Nature.
And let me tell you, she was in a bad mood.
The contest was supposed to start at 8 PM but was delayed until 9:15 PM.
Thus, the delay was 1:15 because there was lightning in the area and the fans cleared out for safety.
In the past, I have seen games at Lockhart Stadium that were played in the mud.
Where the Inter-Miami Training Center stands, I saw a lot of rain at the now demolished Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
During Spring Training, I went to a Marlins Spring Training Game at Roger Dean Stadium and it was rained out.
What I’ve learned to appreciate about this beautiful facility is how well kept the turf is fertilized and drains.
When the game did get start, Inter-Miami didn’t let the delay dampen their style as they raced out to a 2-0 lead.
Ecuadorian striker Leonardo Campana scored his seventh goal in all competitions this season, while defender Damion Lowe scored his first MLS goal, to extend the club’s unbeaten streak to four.
After the weather delay, Inter-Miami opened the proceedings with a number of ambitious counter attacks and lively dribbling. Notably, the winger duo of Robert Taylor and Ariel Lassiter pushed forward frequently while Bryce Duke attacked through the middle.
DC United scored a goal just before halftime. Julian Gressel crossed a ball into the box and Michael Estrada flicked it back to Taxiachis Fountas, who curled it into the back of the net, as the score was 2-1 at halftime.
In the second half, Inter-Miami appeared to score a third goal early when Duke played a ball to Lassiter down the left wing and the winger hit a shot low into the back of the net. But the goal was disallowed as the linesman raised the flag, judging Lassiter to be off-side.
DC United made the score 2-2 when Fountas drove down the right wing, played a ball to Russell Canouse into the box, who passed to Ola Kamara in front of the goal. The striker connected with a pass and tied the match.
Inter-Miami earned a hard fought draw and the game ended at 11:15 PM.
The team earned a point for the effort and was disappointed they didn’t get three.
Nonetheless, there still was satisfaction that they avoided a loss.
When the contest was over, I had the opportunity to ask Coach Phil Neville:
1. What did the players do during the delay?
2. What did he think of the energy of the crowd at home which braved the elements?
I also asked Lowe as to whether his team did plenty to continue to encourage fans to come back?
Check out both of these videos to get a reaction of both Neville and Lowe.
On May 18, Inter-Miami went to the city of Brotherly Love and visited the top team in the Eastern Conference. They earned a 0-0 draw and yet picked up another point. As of this post, the Philadelphia Union has a 6-1-6 record with 24 points.
On May 22, DRV PNK Stadium wasn’t kind to the New York Red Bulls as Inter-Miami blanked the visitors 2-0. Through 13 games, New York is fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3-5 mark with 20 points.
During the past week, Inter-Miami has proven that it can compete against the Eastern Conference’s best.
On Saturday, at DRV PNK Stadium, they’ll take their 4-6-3, 15 points against the Portland Timbers in a match that starts at 8 PM.
Portland enters the game with a 3-5-6 record, 15 points and are in 10th place in the Western Conference.
It should be an interesting contest with two clubs that appear equally matched.
Inter-Miami continues its rise in the Eastern Conference.
The New England Revolution are 4-5-3, 15 points in 9th place.
Atlanta United occupies the 8th spot 4-4-4 with 16 points.
Sitting in the 7th and final playoff spot is Charlotte which is 5-7-1 and 16 points.
Thus, Saturday Night’s match figures to have plenty on the line.
We’ll find out if the momentum continues.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com. You can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.
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