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Inter Miami CF’s early-season free fall started against CF Montréal nearly two months ago, and Montréal made sure Miami stayed stuck in its rut over the weekend.
With their 1-0 defeat to CF Montréal on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., Inter Miami have lost their last five games. Their last win came against FC Cincinnati on May 16.
Miami’s five-game losing streak is tied for its longest in club history, with the team dropping its first five games of its inaugural season last year.
“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves: this run is unacceptable,” Coach Phil Neville said. “The attitudes I thought were fantastic again. There’s a real commitment from the team, but ultimately you’re judged on results. We’ve lost five straight games and that’s unacceptable.”
The first half of Saturday’s game played out similarly to the opening half of the first matchup between the teams on May 12 in Fort Lauderdale: CF Montréal dominated possession on Inter Miami’s side of the field and limited Miami’s attacking opportunities before scoring the game’s lone goal.
CF Montréal out-possessed Inter Miami 60.6-39.4 in the first half and recorded 11 shots (six on goal) in the opening 45 minutes compared to Miami’s two shots (one on goal).
After creating multiple threatening scoring opportunities in the opening 25 minutes, Montréal notched the deciding score in the 41st minute when Mathieu Choinière sent a right-footed shot past John McCarthy.
Seeing the team was in need of more quality in the attack, Neville subbed Gonzalo Higuaín into the match at halftime and his presence on the field immediately helped Inter Miami better control the game.
Rodolfo Pizarro was also used as a substitute for the second consecutive match after recovering from a hip injury last month, coming on for Jay Chapman in the game’s 70th minute.
“He’s getting fitter every day and we’re going to stick with the plan,” Neville said of Higuaín. “It’s important he stays to the plan. He wants to be able to compete for longer periods of the game. We need 90 minutes out of every single player. To do that, you need to be at peak physical fitness.
“The next game, he’ll be ready to start.”
Inter Miami finished the match with 48.9 percent possession and nearly matched Montréal’s passing output, but they didn’t take advantage of their more threatening moments and were shut out for the fifth time in their last seven matches.
Miami recorded three shots on goal against CF Montréal, marking the sixth time in its last seven games and eighth time this season it’s finished with fewer than five shots on target.
“Ultimately, Montréal created more chances and looked a threat every time they went forward like most teams have when they play against us,” Neville said. “Games are won and lost by chances in the opposition box and how you’re defending in your own box. Montréal was better than us in both boxes.”
Saturday’s loss kept Inter Miami (2-7-2, eight points) at the No. 13 spot in the 14-team Eastern Conference standings, with Toronto FC (1-8-2, five points) the only other team in the East below Miami.
Inter Miami’s 0.73 points per match is tied with the Chicago Fire for the second-worst mark in MLS.
Their next game is against the New York Red Bulls on July 17.
Neville believes the team will be fully fit by its next match, with Robbie Robinson (hamstring injury) and Joevin Jones (knee injury) expected to be back in the lineup.
He also anticipates that English left back Kieran Gibbs and Dutch goalkeeper Nick Marsman will be with Inter Miami and available against the Red Bulls.
But with a two-week break from play, Neville hopes the team doesn’t lose its confidence.
“I don’t want them to lose their attitudes or beliefs in what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Five games without a victory — you lose a little bit of confidence. It shows up more in the final third. We need to relax. I want them to have that composure. We need to be a threat going forward.”
As for how Inter Miami can maintain their belief despite their ongoing losing streak, Leerdam said all it’ll take is one result going their way.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in this situation,” Leerdam said. “This is part of sports and as a professional athlete, you need to find those little things to turn around. It’s not easy to do. It’s never easy. It sounds like I’m playing a tape, but if you get one win, everything can change.”