Inter Miami’s new era started off the same way the previous one ended – in a disastrous defeat.
New head coach Javier Morales would have been looking to kickstart the Miami revolution against Wayne Rooney‘s DC United after replacing another former Manchester United star in Phil Neville this week.
But Morales’s reign couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start when Kamal Miller saw red within the opening eight minutes of the MLS clash Saturday night.
Playing a man down, Miami struggled to fend off the attack of the visitors but DC finally broke the deadlock through Donovan Pines, who finished off a corner while tangled up with goalkeeper Drake Callender and the post.
While the two got wrapped up against the post, the ball bounced around their legs. Pines managed to flick his foot out, and the ball popped up just enough to get over the line before Callender was able to corral it and pull it back.
Inter Miami’s woes continued as it suffered a 2-1 defeat to Wayne Rooney’s DC United
New head coach Javier Morales’ Inter Miami got off to the worse start possible Saturday
DC finally broke the deadlock in the second half through defender Donovan Pines (center)
Christian Benteke looked to have put the game on ice when he got in behind Miami’s back line and slipped it past a beleaguered Callender just as the clock hit 90 minutes.
But Ian Fray handed the Herons a lifeline and put a stopper in the flood of fans exiting Drive Pink Stadium by clawing one back with seven minutes of injury time left on the clock.
Fray, brought in for the injured Dixon Arroyo in the second half, got open outside the box, and fellow second-half substitute Robert Taylor cut the ball back to him. Fray took one touch to settle and then lashed it past a diving Tyler Miller for the late consolation goal two minutes into second-half stoppage time.
However, even Fray’s last-gasp chance to rescue a point for the rock-bottom Herons wasn’t enough to see them begin to turn their season around with Benteke and co. seeing out the 2-1 win.
Miami played all but the first seven minutes of the game down a man. Defender Kamal Miller was given a red card for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity tackle on Benteke inside the first 10 minutes. However, DC only truly troubled Callender once in the first half when Benteke got open near the penalty spot, but Callender dove toward the post and kept it out of the net.
Callender did his absolute best to keep Miami in the game despite playing a man down. He finished with four saves despite D.C. pumping 23 shots in the general direction of his goal. His counterpart Tyler Miller was not able to save the only shot on goal he faced.
Injury issues reared their ugly head for Miami early in the second half. Arroyo went down without contact and appeared to be holding his groin before being subbed off in the 50th minute. In the 55th minute, Ryan Sailor stretched out his leg to block a shot and went down in obvious pain before being subbed off.
DC United midfielder Mateusz Klich battles for the ball with Miami forward Leonardo Campana
The loss was Miami’s fifth straight but first with interim head coach Morales on the sidelines after Neville was dismissed Thursday.
Miami had been in poor form under the former Manchester United star, with a 5-0-10 record across 15 games – good for worst in the Eastern Conference and third-worst in the league overall.
One bright side is that they have progressed to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
But Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to the now eleventh place New York Red Bulls was seemingly the final straw – as supporters held signs and chanted for Neville to be sacked
Neville was hired in 2021 by his former Red Devils teammate Beckham to helm the club – but he did not find much success. Last season was their first ever trip to MLS Cup Playoffs in club history where they lost 3-0 to New York City FC.
Across 90 matches for the club, Neville’s record stands at 35-13-42 – a win percentage of just 38.89 percent.
Neville has been prickly in his time with the club – having been short tempered with the Miami press on multiple occasions.
But Wednesday night may have been a step too far as Neville criticized supporters after they voiced displeasure at his son Harvey being substituted on.
Early reports suggest that Tata Martino is an early frontrunner for the job. Martino, a former manager at Atlanta United and Barcelona, is an ex-coach of Lionel Messi – who has been linked with the club.
Whether or not those links between the two Argentines leads to a move to MLS remains to be seen as Messi seems set to depart Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
Phil Neville has reportedly been relieved of his duties as head coach of Inter Miami
Tata Martino (L) is a lead candidate to take over the job as Miami’s links to Leo Messi grow
Beckham (R) is close with the families of Phil (L) and his brother Gary Neville (center)
Neville’s son Harvey was booed by Miami’s fans – something that Phil said felt ‘personal’
‘I like Tata Martino,’ Messi said of the man who he worked with at Barcelona and the Argentina national team. ‘He is a great coach and he showed that in the Clausura with what he did for the team, the way it ended and how he did it. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.’
Martino, who was sacked after a poor showing with Mexico in the 2022 World Cup, has made it clear that he enjoys MLS and would be interested in a return.
‘MLS is my weakness,’ Martino said. ‘I was part of an extraordinary project with Atlanta United that had a clear direction, a lot of communication and similar objectives that were established very quickly and executed.
‘After coaching in MLS, I became attracted to it. I like the league. The possibility of returning to MLS is always there.’