When they play against Inter Miami on Tuesday at DRV PNK Stadium, the Columbus Crew will have an opportunity to earn some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After been defeated in their previous MLS match to Chicago fire, Miami is five points adrift the Crew for the finale playoff berth, and on Friday, Columbus played a draw to CF Montreal.
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Prior to their first game of September last weekend, manager Phil Neville emphasized the importance of maintaining balance to his team. However, based on how they played, it was clear that they had not mastered this skill.
Miami struggled to overcome a disciplined and well-organized Fire defense in the Windy City, and as a result, the South Beach team lost for the third time in a row.
The Herons are returning to their home ground having gone unblemished in four straight domestic games, but all three of those defeats came on the road.
Miami seems to be lacking a dynamic midfielder who can alter the course of a match and create opportunities for this squad, something they have been doing better at lately.
Their consolation goal against Chicago tied a club record for the most goals scored in a single MLS season in franchise history, even though they haven’t exactly been the most potent team in the league. The previous record had been set the previous year.
They have won a lot of their recent home games, but they haven’t made it easy on themselves; at DRV PNK Stadium in 2022, they have given up multiple goals on seven different occasions.
The Crew have won 16 of their previous 17 games, but their draw in Montreal on the road likely felt more like a defeat.
Caleb Porter and his squad, who were ahead of Montreal just before overtime when everything seemed to go wrong, felt as though they had experienced Friday’s outcome before.
Just over a month after giving up goals in the 88th and 94th minutes to the same Montreal team in early August, which resulted in Columbus’ lone loss in more than three months, they conceded goals in the 89th and 94th minutes to lose two points this past weekend.
The Crew will play three of their remaining five games on the road, where they have gone eight games without a loss. However, they did lose their only away game played in South Beach, falling to the Herons 1-0 in 2021.
Despite their remarkable run, the Crew have consistently wasted opportunities to extend their playoff advantage, losing 13 points this season when leading going into the second half.
Their last seven goals have all come in the final 45 minutes, and they have gone five games without scoring in the first half. This team has recently displayed their best play in the second half.
Although they have struggled to maintain a high intensity for 90 minutes, Columbus has been the picture of consistency over the past few months. A desperate Inter Miami team should be able to take advantage of this this week.