Phil Neville is targeting a franchise first of four successive victories for Inter Miami when they take on Atlanta United in Sunday’s MLS clash.
The Herons have defeated New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders in their past two league outings, while also seeing off Miami FC 1-0 in the U.S. Open Cup in midweek.
Despite their improved form, Inter remain in the lower reaches of the Eastern Conference ahead of the visit of Atlanta, who are four points better off after seven matches.
“We want to be a hard team to beat and Sunday could be a first for us, as it would be the first time this franchise has ever won four games on the run,” Neville said.
“There’s a lot of challenges and aims in front of us, but keeping clean sheets is the foundation for any success.
“Atlanta’s a team that likes to dominate possession. We played them three times last season and I think they were three of my most enjoyable games.”
Atlanta won two of those three meetings with Inter last season, with the other finishing all square, but they are without a win or a goal in their past two MLS outings.
Inter have kept back-to-back clean sheets in all competitions, meanwhile, and United boss Gonzalo Pineda is therefore anticipating a difficult contest at DRV PNK Stadium.
“They are very solid, they are very compact,” Pineda said. “They try to make it hard to break them down. And then in transition, they’re very good.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Inter Miami – Leonardo Campana
Campana scored Inter’s winning goal in the U.S. Open Cup third-round win against Miami FC to make it four goals in three games in all competitions. The 21-year-old is proving to be a shrewd piece of business for Miami, having arrived on loan from Premier League side Wolves ahead of the 2022 campaign.
Atlanta United – Bobby Shuttleworth
Brad Guzan has appeared in 150 of Atlanta’s 177 MLS matches, but he is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Experienced keeper Shuttleworth is expected to be the man between the sticks against Inter Miami for what will be his 233rd MLS appearance.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– All seven MLS meetings between Inter Miami and Atlanta United have been drawn or decided by one-goal margins, with each team winning twice and drawing three times. Both teams have scored and conceded seven times over the seven meetings.
– After taking just one point from its first five matches, Inter Miami have won two straight in MLS, picking up wins over the Revs and Sounders. The Herons have won three straight league matches just once in club history, recording three straight 1-0 wins last September.
– The Five Stripes usually win when they score, recording victories in 14 of the last 18 MLS matches in which they found the net (D3 L1) dating back to August. Scoring on the road has not been easy, though, as Atlanta has been shut out in four of their last six road games.
– Miami will be without Gregore for the first time this season due to yellow card accumulation. This will be just the sixth game he has missed since joining Miami last season, but the Herons have just one point from the first five they have played without him (D1 L4).
– Atlanta United will be without Guzan for the rest of the season after his Achilles injury. Including playoffs, Guzan has appeared in 150 of Atlanta’s 177 all-time MLS matches and has posted a league-high 53 clean sheets since Atlanta made its MLS debut in 2017.