On Saturday, New York City FC traveled to Florida to take on Inter Miami CF. After the wins against Orlando City SC and Toronto FC, the Pigeons looked to grab their third win in a row for the first time this season. However, the team was on the road. As fans know, the road has been a scary place in 2023.
This year, NYCFC has only won once away from home. Now, they were taking on a brand new Miami team from when they faced them earlier in the season. The poorly run side somehow convinced Lionel Messi and others to come and play for them. These changes led the worst team of the first half of the Major League Soccer season to win the Leagues Cup.
Yet, Messi and Jordi Alba were not available for Saturday’s match. On paper, this made it seem like a win was possible. Again, the road record did not aid in hope for a win. But a Miami side without some of the superstars made it feel like the Bronx team could earn a point or even three. For NYCFC, Talles Magno and Mounsef Bakrar started together for a second straight game. Plus, the lineup from the Toronto win was unchanged.
In the end, NYCFC shared the points with Miami in a 1-1 draw. It was the 14th draw of the season that feels both like a win and a loss, but more of a loss.
NYCFC and Miami end the night in a 1-1 draw
Before the match could start, New York City FC and Inter Miami were delayed for about an hour. Lightning was in the area, so everyone needed to clear the pitch and seats.
Once the fixture began, the first half was a back-and-forth affair. The Herons dominated the possession, but the Pigeons had all of the offensive threat until the final minutes. The New York birds could not find a shot on target. Then, the Florida team did not have any attacking juice until the end of the first 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, there were many missed opportunities in the first half where NYCFC should have gone in front. One was a pass from Andres Jasson to Bakrar in the box around the 13th minute. The ball ended up slightly too far in front of the Algerian, and in a stretched-out attempt, he sent the ball wide.
Another opportunity came a few minutes later in the 15th. Magno passed the ball to Bakrar, who ran into the box. The striker had two Miami players on his right, with room to shoot on the left. He should have had a shot on target but instead sent the ball wide of goal. NYCFC was lucky to enter the locker room at halftime 0-0 after the missed chances and the Herons’ late surge.
The second half was not great either. Both teams missed chances, and it was extremely helpful that Miami struggled to find the shots. At least, that was the case until the 77th minute.
NYCFC won a free kick near the right side of the halfway line. Tayvon Gray took the kick and sent it to Santiago Rodríguez, who ran ahead of a few Miami defenders. They tried to close out the Designated Player, but he ran to the right side of the box. With a swift shot and on a tough angle, Rodríguez sent the ball into the top right corner of the goal. He put NYCFC ahead, but that would not be the only goal.
Unfortunately, with a few minutes to go in stoppage time, Miami scored the tying goal. A corner kick sent the ball right into the box, and a Tomás Avilés header saw the two teams share the spoils.
Truthfully, NYCFC was a little lucky they came away with any points. Miami had over 64% of the possession and used a lot of that time producing attacking sequences. However, they only had one shot on target, which was the stoppage-time goal. The Herons' inability to be a stronger threat on target allowed the Pigeons to earn a point. At the same time, the missed opportunities and the inability to close it out make the draw feel like a loss.
There was also an injury concern after the completion of the match. Magno had to be substituted out at halftime. The Brazilian went down late in the first but played the remainder of the half. After shining in his last two games, losing him in any fashion would not be ideal.
There are two fixtures left, and the struggles to score on the road continued. New York City FC has to win their final two. Otherwise, the team will probably end the season on the wrong side of the playoff line.