Orlando City-Inter Miami CF Preview
Phil Neville cannot wait to welcome Orlando City on Friday, revealing the game against Inter Miami's rivals was the one he looked for when being made coach.
Inter are preparing to face Orlando for the first time in 2021, having won two and lost two of their four meetings in Miami's debut season last time out.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the early meetings between the two Florida franchises.
But Neville, appointed ahead of this campaign, is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to "build up this rivalry."
"It was the one game I looked at when I got the job, when the Orlando game was going to be," he said.
"I think it's the first time we've had fans in the stadium for this game, and I think the atmosphere's going to be incredible."
Neville described Inter's fans as "our best player so far this season" and backed them to create "an electric hostile" and "make it as hostile as we possibly can."
He added: "In England, we call these games 'local derby games', where the result is for the fans, the result is what means most because of the rivalry between two sets of supporters and football clubs.
"We want to make sure that we build up this rivalry. I think that's what makes football so appealing, so attractive and so good.
"It's on national TV, it's prime time, and these are the games that I hope my players want to play in and perform in. I think we owe our supporters a performance at home."
Miami may have their work cut out, having lost five times in nine matches this term while Orlando, second in the Eastern Conference, have only been beaten once.
Inter Miami - Blaise Matuidi
Inter are quickly running out of players. With Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain still finding fitness, Neville named only six subs in midweek. Two players were then sent off. Matuidi, their most experienced head, is trying to hold things together. Against DC United, he had two tackles, two interceptions, five recoveries and a block.
Orlando City - Daryl Dike
After a successful loan spell with Barnsley in England, Dike did not take long to get up and running again in MLS. He scored twice from two Nani assists in his first start in midweek against the San Jose Earthquakes. Dike also drew three fouls in that match and Inter will do well to handle him.
- This will be the fifth meeting between Inter Miami and Orlando City after the teams split the first four meetings last season with each side winning twice. The home side won all three non-neutral site meetings while Orlando won the match during the group stage of MLS is Back.
- Inter Miami have lost three of their first four home matches this season (D1) after losing twice at home all of last season. Miami have failed to score in their past two home games after scoring in 10 of their first 11 at DRV PINK Stadium.
- Orlando City's 5-0 win over San Jose on Tuesday equalled the largest winning margin in the club's MLS history, along with a 6-1 win over New England in September 2017. It was the second time in club history that the Lions scored four or more goals without conceding one (4-0 vs. LA Galaxy in May 2015).
- Julian Carranza's only two MLS goals were scored against Orlando City when the sides met on August 22 last season. Carranza scored with both of his shots on target in that match while he has hit just two shots on target in his other 20 MLS appearances.
- Benji Michel and Dike each scored twice in Orlando City's win over San Jose on Tuesday, the second time in the club's MLS history that two players scored multiple goals in a match. Nani and Tesho Akindele both scored twice in a 5-1 win over FC Cincinnati in May 2019.
Updated June 24, 2021