D.C. United drew Inter Miami CF in their second meeting of the season, closing out the match 2-2 in front of a sold out crowd (total attendance: 19,215) at Buzzard Point.
There was certainly a buzz around the Miami team, and while Leo Messi hasn’t yet joined Miami’s XI, Audi Field was awash in Miami and Argentina kits, his MLS welcome party clearly underway. New head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino was present, although he didn’t take to the sideline during the match.
The first half was a scoreless deadlock despite the Black-and-Red keeping pressure on the Herons and driving the attack toward the Chico Stand. Cristian Dájome was a strength on the left for the Black-and-Red bolstering offensive efforts, while Christian Benteke and Taxi Fountas worked to drop into the box and find a way past Drake Callender.
The match was chippy from the get go, both D.C. and Miami eager to gain the advantage. Nicolás Stefanelli was taken off the field on a stretcher in the 29′ after an injury and replaced by Israel Boatwright. Benjamin Cremaschi and Josef Martínez found chances for the Herons in the first half, but failed to convert. D.C. United’s back line did a tremendous job marking Martínez shutting him down throughout the first half before he had a chance to build momentum, a task that seems to be imminent for any team opposing the fiery striker.
Miami wasn’t alone in lackluster finishing. The Black-and-Red weren’t able to finish plentiful chances throughout the first half, heading to the locker room with a lot to think about. Despite Benteke, Dájome, Lewis O’Brien and Donovan Pines finding opportunities, the final third remained an impediment.
The second half saw tensions flaring further between D.C. United and Inter Miami. Notably, Taxi Fountas and Ian Fray engaged in several confrontations, as did Dájome and Boatwright. Rosendo Mendoza had his hands full to keep the match moving along.
Finally, the deadlock broke when the Herons struck in the 59′. A cross from Robert Taylor found Benjamin Cremaschi who put away his first MLS goal, firing the ball in from the edge of the box to overcome Tyler Miller.
The Black-and-Red were quick to answer the Herons. Fountas finally found the goal he had been chasing all match in the 65′, whipping the ball past Callender. A true team effort, Yamil Asad flicked a back-heel pass through to Dájome. Fountas was ready and waiting to fire from the top of the box, sinking the ball into the back of the net.
Noah Allen put the Herons back in the lead with his first MLS goal in the 68′. Allen took a free kick that wove it’s way through traffic and right past Miller to bring the scoreline to 1-2.
D.C. head coach Wayne Rooney made a pair of impact substitutes in the 76′ that paid off almost instantly. Bringing in Nigel Robertha and Ruan for Yamil Asad and Andy Najar, the boss set up the Black-and-Red to score in the 77′, the dynamic duo’s fresh legs and keen sense of space overpowering Miami’s back line.
The District Press asked Wayne Rooney if he had hoped for an impact substitution, or was he trying to save Asad and Najar from injury. With a chuckle, Rooney said, “I was hoping. No, of course when you make changes… We felt that there was a lot of space in behind and with everyone’s pacing, Nigel has trained extremely hard to get back fit. I thought he’d done well in the game in Dallas and I’m delighted for him that he got his goal.”
Speaking with Nigel Robertha, he broke down the moment that brought D.C. United level. He said, “Just like every time, he [Rooney] wants me to give 100% when I come in. And as the game was going we were creating a lot of chances and I’m a player that runs in behind a lot and that’s also what he expects from me. So, that’s what I did. When I came in and you saw it, first touch, first goal. So it felt good.”
While the match ended on a high note for the Black-and-Red, there was a feeling that the team should have won. Christian Benteke said, “To be honest, it feels like we lost tonight because I think we could have had these three points.” Robertha agreed. He said, “I think we could have done better. I think we should have won the game because we had a lot of chances…We went like five times one on one with a goalkeeper, you know? If we just finished our chances it’s going to be way easier for us.”
D.C. United will get the chance to improve that clinical finishing when they take on New England Revolution on July 15 at Gillette Stadium.
Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. Inter Miami CF
MLS Regular Season – Game 24
D.C. United: 2 Fountas 65′, Robertha 77′
Inter Miami CF: 2 Cremaschi 59′, Allen 68′
D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Donovan Pines, Derrick Williams, Victor Pálsson, Andy Najar (Ruan 76′), Russell Canouse (Chris Durkin 87′), Lewis O’Brien, Yamil Asad (Nigel Robertha 76′), Cristian Dájome, Taxi Fountas (Erik Hurtado 90’+4′), Christian Benteke
Inter Miami CF: Drake Callender, Ian Fray, Sergii Kryvtsov, Noah Allen, Dixon Arroyo, Rodolfo Pizzaro (Leo Campana 66′), Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruiz, Robert Taylor (Ryan Sailor 86′), Josef Martinez (Edison Azcona 87′), Nicolas Stefanelli (Israel Boatwright 29′)
D.C. United: Asad 18′, Fountas 70′, Pines 90′
Inter Miami CF: Arroyo 2′, Kryvtsov 45′ + 6′, Ruiz 90′ + 4
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United // Hannah Wagner