MLS

Inter Miami v Columbus Crew: Black & Gold aim for further road joy against gutsy Herons

By Sports Desk June 17, 2024

Inter Miami are sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference table but face a challenge on Thursday when Columbus Crew visit for an MLS clash at Chase Stadium.

The Herons are two points clear at the summit of the East standings after snatching a 2-1 triumph over Philadelphia Union last time out.

Yet Wilfried Nancy's Crew have triumphed in their last four road games in the league, battling to a 3-2 victory over New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

"It's a massive run and just shows how good we are mentally" Mohamed Farsi said of the streak.

"I think we have more away wins right now than last year all season. I think so or the same, so I'm happy for that."

Farsi has become a central figure for Columbus and scored the go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute against the Pigeons, much to the delight of head coach Nancy.

"The idea for Mo is to be more consistent because he brings a lot of energy to the team," Nancy said.

"He wants also to show himself that he's a better player than last year when we had the same deal here. Good for him.

"Now, he knows that he has to work on certain things, but I'm happy for him. He's doing a good job."

Despite missing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Matis Rojas – all of whom are on Copa America duty – the nine-man Herons overcame the Union thanks to Leo Afonso's last-gasp strike.

"It is clear that in 10 times, nine of these games we would end up losing," Miami head coach Gerardo Martino said.

"Absolutely all the credit belongs to them. That has to do with the effort, with the character, with the guts that the boys had."

Afonso echoed his coach's sentiment ahead of another crunch match-up.

"It's difficult when you're missing the best players in history in their positions," he said. "But we got to keep working, and we got to try our best."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Inter Miami – Jordi Alba

With stars Messi and Suarez on international duty, Jordi Alba will be expected to step up once more for the Herons.

The former Barcelona full-back has two goals this year in MLS, as well as five assists – that creative tally is only bettered by Messi (13) and Julian Gressel (six) among Miami team-mates.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

Diego Rossi remains an integral figure in attack for the Crew, whose Javier Hernandez (five goals) has only scored more than the forward's four in 10 MLS games this year.

With other Uruguayan colleagues at the Copa, Rossi will hope to extend his fine scoring form here.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Miami may be leading the way in the East but a draw appears the most likely outcome at Chase Stadium.

The Herons have never lost a home match against the Crew (W2 D1), though Columbus did earn their first away point against David Beckham's Miami-based side on the last visit to Fort Lauderdale, a 2-2 draw in July 2023.

Martino will hope to continue a strong run of form with another victory, however.

Miami have won eight of their last 11 regular-season matches (D2 L1) following a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Saturday. Since that run began in mid-April, Martino's side have managed 26 points and scored 28 goals – both league-leading figures.

Yet Columbus should not be ruled out for a win either.

The Crew have won four straight regular-season away matches for the second time in club history after a four-match run in August-September 2015.

Columbus have lost only one of their last 11 regular-season road matches, dating back to last September (W5 D5), and that streak could continue here.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Inter Miami win – 37.4%

Columbus Crew win – 36.3%

Draw – 26.4%

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