Inter Miami will play their first match since the firing of coach Phil Neville when they take on D.C. United on Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Inter Miami (5-10-0, 15 points) suffered their fourth straight loss Wednesday night, 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls. Miami's lackluster performance so far this season has led it to last place in the Eastern Conference, resulting in the club dismissing Neville on Thursday. Miami named assistant Javier Morales as interim head coach.
"We are and always have been an ambitious club," managing owner Jorge Mas said in a statement. "Sometimes the path to growth involves difficult decisions and (Thursday) is one of those moments. We are grateful to Phil for the dedication and tenacity he brought to Inter Miami."
One of the biggest problems to solve for Morales as interim coach is in front of goal. Miami's attack is second-worst in the conference, with only 14 goals through 15 games. Only two players have scored more than one goal this season, Leonardo Campana and Josef Martinez, each with three.
Not all is completely lost, however. Though Miami sits last in the conference, the team is only five points out of a playoff spot. That likely played a large role in Neville's dismissal as Inter Miami look to salvage their season.
D.C. (5-6-5, 20 points) dropped points midweek with a 2-2 draw against CF Montreal. Donovan Pines and Theodore Ku-Dipietro each scored to give D.C. United a 2-0 lead after 59 minutes, but two goals by Montreal in the final 10 minutes forced the draw.
"It's a strange game, isn't it?" D.C. United coach Wayne Rooney said after the game. "I thought we had control of the game and never really felt worried. ... But I stress it before every game, I said it before this game, I said it at halftime: concentration, and we let that slip for a short period and it's cost us two points."
Whether it's a problem with concentration as Rooney said or something else, United needs to shore up ahead of goalkeeper Tyler Miller. He's made 43 saves and has posted a 1.25 goals-against average. That average is better than the goalkeeper he will be lined up against Saturday night, Drake Callender, who has a 1.27 GAA.
D.C. United midfielder Lewis O'Brien was suspended for Saturday's match due to serious foul play late in the Montreal game. O'Brien stepped on the back of an opponent's right calf during a tackle from behind; he was issued a yellow card at the time but the league's disciplinary committee issued a red card suspension.
--Field Level Media