LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) — Inter Miami CF kicked off its inaugural season in Major League Soccer at Banc of California Stadium against reigning Supporters’ Shield champions Los Angeles FC.
The hosts left with a narrow 1-0 victory despite a valiant effort from debutants Inter Miami.
“We had several very clear chances to get ahead on the scoreboard. It was the same after going 1-0 down as we pushed to get an equalizer. I’ll stay with that. With the heart the team showed,” said Head Coach Diego Alonso. “Surely we have to improve in football, but with this heart and with this intensity with which the team plays, we will surely win many games.”
“Against maybe the best team in the league we gave a tremendous picture today of what we can become. With only six weeks of work, the merit is certainly from the footballers for what we have done today and the work they have done.”
Inter Miami’s newly-appointed captain Luis Robles showed his leadership in the early stages of the match with a stunning save in the fifth minute. The keeper dove to his left and got a hand to a powerful header from Diego Rossi. Robles continued to impress throughout the match, tallying eight saves in total.
Argentine center back Nicolás Figal also impressed for Miami, stepping up and making several well-timed tackles. In the 19th minute he dispossessed the LAFC attack, stepped into the midfield and delivered a precise long ball to Robbie Robinson in behind the defense.
Inter Miami threatened goal more as the half progressed, creating a dangerous chance in the 20th minute. Scottish winger Lewis Morgan delivered a pinpoint cross into the center of the box that was controlled by Matías Pellegrini whose shot was blocked.
In the 42nd minute, Inter Miami created a string of dangerous chances, starting with a corner from Morgan that reached Rodolfo Pizarro at the back post. His shot was saved by the keeper, but he recovered possession moments later and sent a cross to Figal whose header was also saved.
Los Angeles took the lead in the dying moments of the first half thanks to a chipped goal from 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela. The forward made an impressive run and sent a lofted shot from the top of the box into the back of the net in the 44th minute.
The second half was a close contest, with both sides calling on a couple of reinforcements. Inter Miami brought on former LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen in the 68th minute for Victor Ulloa, followed by a 79th minute double change. Juan Agudelo and Christian Makoun came on for Morgan and Pellegrini, narrowing the team’s shape. By the end of the match LAFC had nine shots on target compared to Inter Miami’s seven.
A few late chances came Inter Miami’s way, including a 97th minute shot from Nguyen. The midfielder collected possession from a Román Torres pass and curled a left-footed shot from the top of the box that was saved by the keeper.
The first match in the history of the Club saw the team acquit itself well, pressuring the hosts on a number of occasions in front of an impressive traveling support. Members of the Club’s recognized supporters’ groups – The Siege, Southern Legion and Vice City 1896 – made the cross-country trip to Los Angeles to support the team for the historic occasion and made their presence felt.
“At the club they really treat me like someone in the family and the fans are the same. Not just ours, but the league’s fans. It has been an incredible welcome and we are very proud to belong and compete in the MLS,” concluded Alonso. “Our fans have really been amazing. I want to make a special mention to them. The support we have had has been tremendous in each of the days that have passed before the start of the league and today they have been fantastic. We dedicate our effort and our heart to them, everything we do in the league is going to be dedicated to them.”
Miami has another road game at D.C. United next weekend before its home opener against the Galaxy at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on March 14. That game is sold out.