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Phil Neville believes Inter Miami can still push for a playoff spot, should the side’s designated players keep up their form

Miami has gone on a four-match unbeaten run since losing 5-0 to the New England Revolution on July 21, lifting itself off the foot of the Eastern Conference in the process.

Inter beat Nashville SC last time out with designated players Blaise Matuidi, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodolfo Pizarro playing a crucial part.

“The three DP players played like three DP players — all three played like DP players,” Neville said after the match. “When your DP players play like that, we will win games of football, we will challenge for the playoffs.

“Blaise, I’ve got to say I’ve not see him play better than I have in the last two or three weeks for Inter Miami. What I think about Gonzalo in the second half is, if he plays at that level, if he makes tackles, if he runs around, if he plays with that quality, the whole team, staff, supporters are inspired and he’s inspired. That’s his level and that’s how good he is. He’s world-class, Blaise is world-class, Pizarro is world-class. We saw that in the Gold Cup.”

Miami’s next test is a trip to face New York City FC, which lost to Mexican side Pumas UNAM on penalties in the Leagues Cup in midweek.

“There was one team on the pitch today for almost 90 minutes,” Ronny Deila said. “If we do this performance over time, then it’s going to come because we are a young team and we are learning all the time.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos

Castellanos has attempted an MLS-high 78 shots this season, 16 more than any other player in the league.

Inter Miami – Gonzalo Higuain

Higuain has scored eight MLS goals this season, netting twice in his last three appearances.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– New York City FC won both of its matches against Inter Miami last season, one at MLS is Back and the other in Florida. Both victories were by one-goal margins (1-0 at MLSIB, 3-2 at Miami).

– New York City FC has won five straight home matches while outscoring opponents 13-2 in those wins. NYCFC has scored at least four times in each of its last two home matches (5-0 vs. Orlando City, 4-1 vs. Columbus). There have been just five instances of a team scoring at least four times in at least three straight home matches in MLS history, most recently LAFC in September 2020.

– Inter Miami is unbeaten in four straight matches (W2 D2) following a six-match losing streak. The current four-match run is the longest unbeaten streak in Miami’s brief MLS history.

– Castellanos has accrued an expected goals value of 13.3 on those shots, highest in MLS, though he has scored just six times. The -7.3 difference is the largest xG underperformance of any MLS player this season.

– Inter Miami’s 2-1 win over Nashville on Sunday was just the fifth time this season that Miami has scored multiple goals in a match. Higuain has scored at least once in all five of those matches.

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