Phil Neville is hoping to put on a show for supporters when his rejuvenated Inter Miami side face rivals Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium.
Inter have turned their season around with three wins in their last four matches to climb up to 11th in the Eastern Conference, within five points of the playoffs with games in hand.
After beating Chicago Fire FC and Toronto FC on home soil in their last two matches, the Herons are back on their travels on Friday with a trip to state rivals Orlando.
Inter claimed a 1-1 draw when the sides last met earlier this month and Neville is hoping to see similar fighting spirit in this latest encounter.
“Probably the most vivid recollection from last meeting with them is the supporters that we had at the game, how much it means to them,” Neville said.
“We want to put on a show for them. We want to show them the fight, the spirit of togetherness that we show, and I want the same type of performance in what we did in Orlando.
“I thought we were outstanding that day. And if we do that, then we’ll have a great chance of getting a good result and points on Friday.”
Orlando ended a four-game winless run in all competitions with a 1-0 victory over Chicago Fire last weekend, a result that lifted the Lions back up to second place in the East.
City welcomed Daryl Dike and Mauricio Pereyra back to full training on Wednesday following recent lay-offs and both have a chance of featuring against Inter.
Nani and Pedro Gallese are doubtful, however, possibly forcing head coach Oscar Pareja into more changes.
“I don’t know if I remember a time where I have rotated this much the full roster, which is important,” Pareja said.
“You can see the benefit of that, with players like Raul (Aguilera) debuting, Michael (Halliday) having his first games, too. Having these guys on the pitch is important.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Orlando City SC – Mason Stajduhar
Gallese has missed Inter’s last five matches, giving Stajduhar a chance to impress. He recorded the first clean sheet of his MLS career against Chicago Fire and made four of his five saves in the final 10 minutes to help preserve his side’s points. The 23-year-old will overtake Tally Hall for the number of matches unbeaten to start his Orlando City career should his side avoid defeat on Friday, having yet to lose in four appearances.
Inter Miami CF – Rodolfo Pizarro
One of the key aspects of Inter’s improved form has been getting Pizarro more involved in games. The 27-year-old has three goals in his last two appearances, having previously gone 12 games without scoring. He netted a sublime late winner against Chicago Fire recently, showing just what the Mexico international is capable of when used in the right position and formation.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– All six matches between Orlando City and Inter Miami have either been drawn or decided by a one-goal margin. Additionally, both teams have scored in all six matches.
– Orlando have won three of their last ten matches (D4 L3), though they are unbeaten in five (W2 D3). The Lions are looking for consecutive wins for the first time since a three-match run in June, with the third win in that streak coming against Inter Miami.
– Inter Miami could win three straight matches for the first time in club history. Miami scored three times in each of their last two matches after netting three goals just twice in the club’s first 41 MLS matches, though one of those was against Orlando City.
– Orlando have allowed just two set-piece goals this season (excluding penalties), tied with Colorado for fewest in MLS. Orlando are one of two teams (along with New York Red Bulls) that have not allowed a goal off a corner this season, while Miami are the only team without a goal off a corner in 2021.
– Leandro Gonzalez Pirez recorded his first career multi-assist game against Toronto on Saturday, setting up two of Miami’s three goals. Gonzalez Pirez now has three assists in his last two games after having four assists in the previous three seasons combined.