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Pink Players Knock Us Off Our Pink Cloud

Despite another fairly decent effort, and despite the absence of superstar Lionel Messi, Inter Miami handed DC its first defeat of the season Saturday afternoon (March 16), 3-1.

It was a beautiful early spring day (although it is still officially winter), with temperatures in the mid-60s, a modest breeze, and brilliant sunshine. For afternoon games in the West Stands, a hoodie or other covering is necessary to protect the back of your head from sunlight (if you care about such things).

The supporters section continued to be relatively quiet as part of the 4 game protest of DC's preseason Saudi Arabia trip. One banner (shown above) remembered the late Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in 2018.

DC started the same defensive lineup as in the first 3 games of the season: Bono in goal, Santos/McVey/Bartlett/Herrera in defense. Peltola and Klich were in defensive midfield, although Klich played a more traditional midfield this game than in others. Christian Benteke was back after missing the last 2 games with injury. Dajome played as a second forward with Benteke, and PIrani and Stroud rounded out the midfield as usual.

DC dominated the first 20 minutes. While Benteke looked a bit rusty, Stroud hit a great shot from about 16 yards out to open the scoring in the 14th minute. However, Miami slowly began to penetrate DC's pressure, and after a penalty box scramble got a 24th-minute goal from Ecuadorian forward Leonardo Campana. The rest of the half was fairly even. Miami played through the pressure with transition and counters, and the midfield was stretched at times, but DC had chances too. In the 38th minute, Dajome's jersey was held on a free kick, preventing him from launching a header on goal, but the obvious penalty was inexplicably not called (or reviewed). It was 1-1 at the half.

After halftime, Miami continued to move more freely; DC's passes were not always accurate, and there was more space for long switches, making the defense more vulnerable. Things were still pretty even, but the big turning point of the match occurred in the 72nd minute. A DC cross through the box was clearly a handball on Miami, but (AGAIN!) not called. Miami immediately took the ball the length of the field and substitute Luis Suarez scored an easy tapin. Instead of being (hopefully) 2-1 DC, it was 2-1 Miami, in the space of 30 seconds.

(Miami has an abundance of riches (old riches, but still riches); even with Messi out, they have Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and of course Suarez. Didn't there used to be a 3 DP limit? )

That turned out to be the ballgame right there. DC played hard to the end and created their usual 2024 chances (15 shots, 7 on goal, 8 corner kicks) but after a steal by Miami's Diego Gomez, Suarez had a beautiful chipped goal in the 85th minute. The last glimmer of hope died when Santos got a red card (which could easily have been yellow) in the 90th minute, although even shorthanded DC had a stoppage time opportunity or two.

There was some interesting security for the game; DC warmed up before the game at the opposite of its usual end (to protect the expected Messi, I presume) and the security presence at halftime was very heavy (again, I assume, put in place when Messi was expected to play). See the photo above.

On the subs side, Kristian Fletcher came in for Pirani, Martin Rodriguez (in his first action since the fall of 2022) came in for Stroud, and Jacob Murrell came in for Dajome.

The next game is in St. Louis on Saturday, March 23. There will definitely be some lineup changes in that one; Santos will be out due to his red card, and it's an international weekend, so Peltola (Finland) and Herrera (Guatemala) will also be out. Fletcher and Akinmboni will be unavailable as well, in USA under-19 action.


The Nest Liner

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