MLS

Curtin sees opportunity as Messi, Suarez and Gazdag miss Philadelphia-Miami clash

By Sports Desk June 14, 2024

Saturday's MLS clash between the Philadelphia Union and Inter Miami will require both teams to cope without key players, but Jim Curtin is viewing it as an opportunity.

Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for the match, with the duo preparing to represent Argentina and Uruguay, respectively, at the Copa America.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, will have to make do without 10-goal leading scorer Daniel Gazdag, who is part of Hungary's squad for Euro 2024.

Asked about the difficulties of coping without Gazdag, Curtin pointed out that Miami will also need to adjust and highlighted 20-year-old midfielder Jack McGlynn as an example of a player who could stand to benefit. 

"He's not a 10 but he has the passing range to unlock a defence," Curtin said of McGlynn. "Maybe he does it from a deeper position, but we might need him to be a little more aggressive.

"Unfortunately, he won't be passing the ball to Daniel Gazdag so all these things weigh in, just like Jordi Alba won't be combining with Messi. 

"Both teams aren't at full strength, so we have to make the most of what it is. I see this as an opportunity to bring out players' skills, like with Jack."

Miami lead the way in the Eastern Conference with 35 points, 15 clear of the eighth-placed Union having played two additional matches.

Since Messi joined the Herons last year, they have only won three of 14 matches without him, drawing five and losing six. 

The Argentine's minutes were managed ahead of him linking up with Argentina, which coach Gerardo Martino says was necessary. 

"With the passage of time, one sees the body does not recover in the same way," he told TyC Sports this week. 

"He understands it, he sees that there are trips that are high-risk and long. That's why we started to agree on when it is necessary for him to stop."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Philadelphia Union – Jack McGlynn

McGlynn, who is expected to play a major role for the United States at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, has two goals and four assists this season.

That first figure is a joint career best, while the latter is a new personal benchmark. The cultured left-footer could be set to play a central role at Subaru Park.

Inter Miami – Sergio Busquets

With Messi and Suarez absent, it could be down to Busquets to lead the way for Miami. 

The Barcelona great trails only Riqui Puig (1,330) for successful passes in MLS this year (1,115), and four of his 17 chances created have become assists. 

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Miami have won two of their last four away games against Philadelphia (one draw, one defeat). 

They are one of just three teams (alongside New York City and Orlando City) with multiple road wins over the Union since the start of the 2021 season.

Philadelphia have struggled at home in general lately, going six regular-season matches without a win (two draws, four defeats) at Subaru Park. 

Since last September, they have only won two of their 13 league games on home soil (seven draws, four defeats), with only two MLS sides collecting fewer home points than their 13 since that run began.

However, with both teams missing key players, it is difficult to have much confidence in either. A draw could be on the cards, with Miami lacking their usual firepower. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Philadelphia Union – 38.4%

Inter Miami – 35.2%

Draw – 26.5%

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