Fire-Inter Miami CF Preview

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Phil Neville says “there is no time to mope” for his Inter Miami CF players as they look to put together another unbeaten run when they host Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday.

The Herons’ mini revival that had seen them go four matches without defeat was ended in a 2-0 loss at New York City FC on Saturday.

Inter are 12th in the Eastern Conference, 10 points off the playoffs with two games in hand on most of the sides above them, and Neville is not ruling out a push for the top seven just yet.

“It’s about putting that last defeat behind us and moving on to Wednesday, which will be a really important game for us,” he said.

“There is no time to mope. There is no time to point fingers or start blaming and criticizing. This league is brutal, where you just got to lick your wounds and move on.

“It’s there for us if we want it. It’s not as if we are in a position where it is impossible. Therefore, if we really, really want it, and we want to put the hard yards in, we’ll be successful.”

Chicago have revived their own playoff hopes thanks to back-to-back home wins against New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew in their last two matches.

The Fire now have a run of six successive road matches, starting with the trip to DRV PNK Stadium, which is the only game head coach Raphael Wicky is currently focusing on.

“We’re taking it game by game. You cannot look too far ahead,” Wicky said. “The next match is in Miami on Wednesday, and then we go from there.

“I think we’re seeing an improvement from this team over the past few weeks. I’m proud of the guys for stepping up. That’s down to hard work and the mentality.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Inter Miami CF – Rodolfo Pizarro

Neville’s side once again lacked any real attacking threat in the loss to New York City FC, against whom they managed just seven shots across the 90 minutes. There is plenty of focus on Gonzalo Higuain up top, but Pizarro is now 12 games without a goal this term alongside him and needs to bring an end to that scoreless streak.

Chicago Fire FC – Francisco Calvo

Defender Calvo was superb in the win against Columbus, leading the way for tackles won (four), interceptions (four), duels won (13) and recoveries (12). That helped the Fire to a second clean sheet in three matches and it will be very tough for Inter to break down their opponents’ defensive wall on Wednesday.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Fire won their first-ever meeting with Inter Miami 1-0 on May 22 in Chicago. Luka Stojanovic’s winning goal in that match was the only time the Fire found the net in a seven-match span from May 1 to June 23.

– Inter have allowed at least one goal in 14 straight matches, the second-longest streak in MLS (Toronto – 15 straight). Miami have just four clean sheets in their MLS history, fewer than any other team that has been in MLS since the start of the 2020 season.

– The Fire have recorded wins in back-to-back games for the second time this season, though to make it three in a row, Chicago will have to end a 17-match road winless streak (D6 L11) that dates back to the start of the 2020 season.

– Inter have taken seven or fewer shots in eight matches this season. Only one other team (Toronto – seven) have more than four such games.

– Stojanovic has scored Chicago’s last three goals, including the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Columbus on Sunday. It’s the second time this season that Stojanovic has scored three straight Fire goals, also doing so from April 17 to May 22.

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