Inter Miami vs. Columbus Crew

Two teams at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference – Inter Miami and Columbus Crew – meet for the second time in 2023 on July 4 at DRV PINK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Inter Miami shocked Columbus Crew in their first meeting of the season back in April, winning 2-1 thanks to a brace from Leonardo Campana. Since then, however, the two clubs have gone in two completely different directions: Miami has fallen to rock bottom in the Eastern Conference while Columbus has surged up to fourth place.

The Herons avoided defeat last time out, drawing 1-1 with Austin FC, but still sit dead last in the East with 16 points from 19 games. The point could prove to be key in their hunt for the playoffs, which seems nearly mathematically impossible at the moment. But their luck could change with the arrival of Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets, who look set to make their debuts in the Leagues Cup game against Liga MX Cruz Azul.

Messi and Busquets are joined by newly appointed head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, who is set to take over for interim Javier Morales once his work visa is approved. In Miami’s draw with Austin, forward Josef Martinez scored his fifth goal of the season (two goals in three games) and is heating up at the right time. 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi has three assists this season in 15 appearances.

The Crew continued their winning ways last time out as they triumphed 2-1 over New York Red Bulls. Goals from Juan ‘Cucho’ Herandez and Yaw Yeboah were enough to see off NYRB as the win saw their points tally jump to 34 from 20 gamed played.

The Ohio-based club’s excellent season has been influenced by Lucas Zelarayan, who’s scored eight goals and six assists this season including that incredible halfway line goal to help his side defeat Chicago Fire. Hernandez has 10 goals involvements while Cristian Ramirez has scored seven times.

Miami and Columbus have met five times previously, with the Herons winning three times and Columbus winning twice. Will Miami extend their series lead, or will the Crew equal the series record?

When is kick-off? 7:30 PM EST

Where is the game being played? DRV PINK Stadium

TV channel/live stream? MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

What time does TV coverage start? 7:15 PM EST

The Herons still have a lengthy injury report, which has definitely played its part in how their season has unfolded thus far. Striker Corentin Jean’s knee injury still has him sidelined until later this month while defender Franco Negri is out for the rest of the 2023 season after suffering a left ACL tear against Philadelphia Union.

In the midfield, Miami has two long-term setbacks with Jean Mota dealing with an LCL injury while Gregore suffered a Lisfranc injury earlier on in March. Gregore is scheduled to be back in action in September, but Mota will remain sidelined until November.

Noah Allen and Christopher McVey will continue to shoulder left-back responsibilities in Negri’s absence. Cremaschi, Dixon Arroyo, and David Ruiz will get called upon in the midfield and have opportunities to impress.

Interim Javier Morales is still in charge of the team on an interim basis until Martino’s work visa is approved. The Herons last five games haven’t exactly gone to plan, with their sole win coming against USL opposition Birmingham Legion, 1-0, that saw them book their spot in this year’s US Open Cup semifinals against FC Cincinnati. The Herons are currently on eight game winless streak in MLS and face a tough task in breaking that streak against Columbus.

The Crew have a significantly shorter injury report with just one player sidelined at the moment. Left-back Will Sands suffered a left ACL tear in late April and will miss the rest of the season, just as he was becoming a mainstay in the Colubmus XI.

In Sands’ absence, Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy will look to rely on Jimmy Medranda, Yaw Yeboah, and Malte Amundsen, who was signed after it was revealed that Sands would miss the rest of the campaign.

Columbus’ last five games couldn’t look more different than Miami’s. The Crew have won four out of their last five games, defeating Nasvhille and Charlotte, 2-0 and 4-2, respectively. The lone draw came against NYFC on the road at Yankee Stadium.

Miami will hope to build off what was an improved performance at home vs. Austin where they amounted 2.03 xG and had 18 shots at goal. The Crew, however, were more clinical in front of goal as they scored twice from six shots against the Red Bulls while only creating 1.06 xG.

The Verde and Black were a challenge for Miami last week, and it doesn’t get any easier with Columbus coming to town. The trio of Cremaschi, Martinez, and Campana (if they play together at the same time) could help Miami create a host of chances but they will have to be wary of the experience and quality that the Crew have up front. The Crew just might prove to be too much for Miami to handle.

Prediction: Inter Miami 1 – Columbus Crew 3

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