Inter Miami CF-Timbers Preview

National Sports

Inter Miami CF head coach Phil Neville implored his side to be more ruthless with their finishing as they prepare to travel to Portland Timbers.

Miami have seen defeat in three consecutive games, conceding 10 goals, after losing to Atlanta United 1-0 last time out.

However, the playoffs are still a realistic ambition for David Beckham’s franchise as they remain six points back from sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference, while also boasting a game in hand.

But Neville insists if his side are to compete, they must be more clinical in front of goal.

“On the road, you’re only going to get three or four chances maximum,” Neville said.

“You have to take the opportunities that come your way. Can we have the composure to make the extra pass? How badly do we want to score?That’s what teams have done to us.

“Gonzalo (Higuain), Rodolfo (Pizarro), Lewis, Kieran (Gibbs), Robbie Robinson. These are players that have to start performing in the final third for us. It’s as simple as that, getting goals and assists is what they are paid to do.”

Portland are comfortable in fourth in the Western Conference, nine points clear of the playoff-chasing pack, and have won their last three outings – last defeating Los Angeles FC 2-1.

The hosts are also unbeaten in their last seven games but head coach Giovanni Savarese is expecting a tough task against Miami.

“They’re stronger away from home, they’re more organized,” Savarese said. “If you look at the roster, they have experienced players who can create problems.

“Even though they haven’t got some results, every game in MLS is tough and difficult, we need to prepare and be ready.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Dairon Asprilla

Dairon Asprilla scored in his third consecutive game for the Timbers last time out as he recorded his eighth goal of the season. Asprilla’s form has set Portland alight recently as they continue to maintain their playoff position.

Inter Miami CF – Gonzalo Higuain

Miami are last in xG per game, 24th in passes into the box but they still need more from Gonzalo Higuain. The striker has six more goals than any other team-mate and Neville desperately needs the Argentine to drag his side out of this poor run of form.

KEY OPTA FACTS

●This will be the first meeting between the Timbers and Inter Miami in MLS. This will be Miami’s fifth match against a Western Conference foe, having recorded one win and three losses in their first four matches against the opposite conference.

●Portland has scored in each of its last 17 matches and enjoyed a longer such streak over a single season only once in the club’s history – during the last 21 matches of the 2017 season.

●Inter Miami lost, 1-0, to Atlanta United in midweek, the seventh time its failed to score in an away match in 2021, only Austin FC (9) and Columbus Crew (8) have been goalless in more away matches this season.

●Dairon Asprilla was involved in both of Portland’s goals in the win at LAFC during midweek. He has scored eight goals in 2021, one more than in his previous six MLS regular seasons combined (7).

●Gonzalo Higuaín has scored 50% of Inter Miami’s eight away goals in 2021 (4/8), however he has not scored a goal on the road since a brace against Cincinnati in mid-May. His last six goals have all been scored at home.

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