Phil Neville admitted there was a feeling of relief around Inter Miami after his team finally signaled they might be able to turn a corner this season.
Miami went on a six-game losing streak to leave them planted at the foot of the Eastern Conference, but a draw with Philadelphia Union and a win over CF Montreal has seen them pull back to within a point of Chicago Fire.
Neville now has to rally his side for a Florida derby against Orlando City, who clinched a dramatic 3-2 win over Atlanta United last time out.
“There is an element of relief throughout the whole club,” Neville said. “You want to reverse the string of defeats.
“The feeling and where we are at the moment, the last two games have been a breath of fresh air around the place given what we had been through over the last five weeks.
“We’re going into the game against Orlando in really good shape. We want to enjoy this one. It’s a local derby, the atmosphere in that stadium will be really electric. If you’re a footballer, these are the games you want to play in.”
Orlando had a galling defeat of their own to bounce back from when they took on Atlanta, Oscar Pareja’s team having previously suffered a 5-0 defeat to New York City FC.
“It has been a difficult week,” Pareja said after the win over Atlanta.
“It’s well known that the performance we had last week, we needed to just erase and learn from it and bounce back and many things needed to happen. The players were incredible today.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Orlando City – Nani
Nani scored the 87th-minute winner against Atlanta, and there is no doubt he is Orlando’s talisman. Indeed, he also set up the Lions’ equaliser.
Inter Miami – Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain netted both goals in Miami’s win over Montreal and has scored (five) or assisted (one) each of the team’s last six goals in total.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the sixth meeting between Orlando and Miami since Miami joined MLS at the start of last season, with Orlando winning three and Miami winning two. Both teams have scored in all five matches as each of them has been decided by a one-goal margin.
– Orlando has won four of its last five home matches (L1), including the last two in a row. The Lions have just one three-match home winning streak in the last three years, beating Miami, the Red Bulls and Chicago in September 2020.
– Miami ended a seven-match winless run (D1 L6) with a 2-1 victory over Montreal on Saturday. Miami has won consecutive matches just once in club history, beating the Red Bulls and Dynamo in October 2020.
– Silvester van der Water came off the bench to score the equalizing goal and assist on the winning goal against Atlanta United on Friday, becoming the first Orlando player to record both a goal and an assist off the bench in an MLS match.
– Higuain has directly contributed to nine (seven goals, two assists) of Miami’s 13 goals this season.