CITY vs Inter Miami Game Recap


By Cole Sutton

The Boys in Red took a trip down to Fort Lauderdale for a clash against the best side in MLS, Lionel Messi and Inter Miami. The highly anticipated match lived up to the hype as plenty of traveling CITY supporters made the trip down to Chase Stadium, seeing their side snag a point on the road against likely the most dangerous attacking side we've seen since entering the league.

The matchup's momentum seemed to swing heavily back and forth in the blink of an eye, with both clubs getting some decent looks in the first minutes of action. Messi showed his brilliance early manipulating CITY defenders and creating space near the top of the box, which would come back to haunt us later in the first half.

The deadlock was broken only 15 minutes in as Chris Durkin slotted home an incredible finish from outside the area, his first as a St. Louis player. Settling the ball with his back towards goal, the former DC United midfielder made a quick turn firing a rocket into the top right corner, beating Inter Miami's Drake Callendar and giving CITY an early 1-0 advantage. Besides the goal, Durkin has possibly been the best outfield player we've seen through 15 games for this St. Louis side. The burst of energy he brings to the central midfield and the amount of ground he covers are just two aspects of his game that perfectly fit into the Red Bull system that Bradley Carnell utilizes.

The first of three different CITY leads only lasted about ten minutes as Inter Miami's lead man Lionel Messi showed exactly why the MLS made such a push to bring him in from Paris Saint Germain last season.

The Argentinian found himself at the top of the CITY penalty area with the ball glued to his feet & Tim Parker glued to his back. Messi handled the pressure well, sending a lobbed ball out wide to his former FC Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba. Parker retreated into position leaving Messi unmarked, and we all know how that usually ends. A connection we've seen time and time again, a quick ball played from Alba's left wing to Messi who only needs one touch with that left foot to level the game at 1-1.

As if it couldn't get any worse for CITY, shortly after the goal by Messi, Rasmus Alm had to be replaced in the 27th minute after taking a shot to the knee in a collision with an Inter Miami player. The Swedish international was replaced by the 17th pick of the 2024 SuperDraft Hosei Kijima who left his mark on the match, to say the least.

The former Wake Forest midfielder was the second highest-rated CITY player (8.0) according to FotMob, trailing only Célio Pompeu at 8.8. The Japan native finished 15/22 (68%) on accurate passing, created three chances, made five passes into the final third, and totaled six defensive recoveries. We haven't seen much of Kijima at the first-team level since his game-winning goal against Houston in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup, with only 115 minutes played dating back to February 20th. The youngster made his first MLS start in the May 18th 3-1 loss to Cincinnati and registered his first MLS assist this past Saturday on the goal scored by Indiana Vassilev just before halftime.

Speaking of the attacking midfielder, Vassilev impressed me in his first game back in Fort Lauderdale since leaving the club after the 2022 season. The former Aston Villa product made 48 appearances for Miami while on loan, scoring five goals. While he may be wearing a different uniform, Vassilev returned to his old ways scoring in Chase Stadium with an incredible near-post finish at the 41st-minute mark. A great tackle in the midfield by Eduard Löwen created the break with Indy making sure he doesn't add to the countless amount of missed opportunities by St. Louis throughout the match.

What looked like a 2-1 CITY lead going into the halftime break was quickly taken away once again as a controversial build-up by Luis Suarez finished with the ball in the back of the net in the second minute of stoppage time. Suarez, who isn't necessarily known as the *cleanest* player in the league, seemed to have either purposely tripped or gotten "tangled up" with Anthony Markanich who was attempting to intercept Alba's cross. As was the case for most of the match, no call was made against Miami and the equalizer stood, taking the game into the break at 2-2.

The deadlock would remain until the 68th minute when a corner taken by Löwen somehow found its way into the back of Miami's net. After a replay shown by the Apple TV broadcast, it seemed to be an own goal off the back of Luis Suarez, a bit of payback for his controversial first-half goal. Either way, CITY led for the third time in only 70 minutes with a 3-2 advantage. While this isn't a hot take by any means, the own goal was just another example of how dangerous St. Louis can be on both corners and free-kicks when Edu is taking our set-piece chances.

Again, like clockwork, CITY allowed another equalizer. This time from Jordi Alba who luckily was *just* kept onside by Markanich who seemed to be ball-watching for just a split second too long. Initially called offsides, a quick (almost too quick?) decision was made to check with VAR and ensure the call was correct. Referee Allen Chapman reversed the initial call on the field, bringing Miami level once again at 3-3 in the 85th minute.

The game would finish at 3-3, but I believe both sides could've (and probably should've) tallied more goals. According to FotMob's numbers, CITY finished the game with 20 total shots, only seven were considered on target. The sole reason St. Louis didn't suffer a 6-3 loss was their netminder and captain Roman Bürki who finished the night with seven total saves. An entertaining yet frustrating draw that leaves St. Louis supporters both pleasantly surprised at how well their side played against one of the best squads in MLS, but also just as frustrated at the lack of clinical finishing in their final third.

Saturday's match was the 15th for St. Louis with at least three goals since the beginning of the 2023 season, the most in MLS over that span with CITY holding an unbeaten 12-0-3 record in those matchups. St. Louis has scored three goals on Miami in both matchups, although their clash at CITYPARK in 2023 was without the likes of Suarez, Alba, Busquets & Messi.

Looking ahead, the boys will return home to CITYPARK for their first of two matches against the Portland Timbers this season. CITY went 1-1 against Portland last campaign with a 2-1 win on the road in Providence Park, followed by a 2-1 defeat at home later that year. With the injuries to Rasmus Alm & Tomas Ostrák, it will be interesting to see what type of lineup changes we see Carnell & company make. Will we see more of Sam Adeniran who I thought performed well last match? Will Kijima earn his second MLS start? Can Löwen make it through a full 90-minute shift? We'll find out Saturday night at CITYPARK!