The road trip continues for Inter Miami, but this time it just feels different.
Inter Miami will take its massive winning streak to the Empire State to take on New York Red Bulls as the Major League Soccer regular season gets back to full tilt for the Herons.
Let’s get into it.
Messi Hits the Big Apple, But New York Is Waiting
The Red Bulls are coming off a 1-0 home win over DC United in one of Major League Soccer’s Pillow Fight of the Week.
The win moved New York to just a point behind DC United and three back of Chicago Fire and the last MLS Cup playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
John Tolkin nailed a free kick just outside the box to elevate New York Red Bulls past United in a match that would otherwise be classified as boring at best.
In terms of total offense, the Red Bulls have been as lackluster as Inter Miami was before the Leagues Cup.
In fact, NYRB has just 23 goals to its tally in 24 matches.
For reference, Inter Miami had 22 goals in 22 matches going into the Leagues Cup.
But something smells different… and I don’t mean the New York air. It’s the fact that Lionel Messi will make his first trip to New York since signing for Inter Miami last month.
And considering NYRB’s defense isn’t that great (to be fair, it isn’t that bad either allowing only 26 goals in league play), it could be a good time to feast for Inter Miami.
But, Inter Miami has notched 25 goals in their last eight matches, which changes the complexity of the match.
Both of these teams are hunting for an MLS Cup playoff spot, albeit New York Red Bulls have a much easier path than Inter Miami.
That said, Messi in New York — playing or not — is going to be a big deal. The biggest player in the biggest media market in the world.
It could be something that gives Inter Miami a distinct advantage.
What Inter Miami Needs To Do To Win
It’s easy to suggest that Inter Miami needs to score more goals, but that is obvious.
However, the Herons have been able to spread the wealth around outside of Messi’s boot.
Against FC Cincinnati in a hostile U.S. Open Cup semifinal, Messi didn’t find the back of the net once. Granted, he had a pair of brilliant assists to make up for it.
And that is dangerous for opponents.
MLS Regular Season
Inter Miami at New York Red Bulls
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26
Red Bull Arena
How to Watch
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
NYRB Form (last three)
Inter Miami (last three)
But, to that end, Robert Taylor has been relatively quiet since his resurgence early in Inter Miami’s knockout matches in the Leagues Cup.
To make it more of a complete offensive push, Taylor needs to be reactivated on offense.
As for defense, New York Red Bulls aren’t known as an offensive powerhouse, which might be a nice change of pace for the Herons, who have faced Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati in consecutive matches — all of which are strong on the attack.
But, Inter Miami can’t be complacent on the back line. And they need to continue pushing the ball to the midfield which has done a strong job finding attacking players in transition.
All told it may not be easy for Inter Miami, but it shouldn’t be that hard either.