Five games… five wins. That’s the recent run of form for Inter Miami.
We won’t even talk about what happened before that.
But, if the Herons want to make it six for six, they will have to go through Major League Soccer foes Philadelphia Union in the semifinals of the 2023 Leagues Cup.
Let’s dive into what we expect from the match.
Inter Miami Face “No Slouch” in Philadelphia
Heading into the Leagues Cup, Philadelphia Union was third in the MLS Eastern Conference on 40 points — trailing only New England and FC Cincinnati.
Their offense was solid — with a +13 goal differential in league play — and they won 8 of their 10 home matches played.
2023 Leagues Cup
Inter Miami vs. Philadelphia Union
Subaru Park (Chester, Pa.)
7 p.m. ET
How to Watch
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Philadelphia Form (Last 3)
Inter Miami Form (Last 3)
But it’s been a bit of a different story since Cup play began.
Since entering the knockout stages of the tournament, the Union have won two of their three on penalty kicks and needed a last-minute goal in the other.
To add to it, Philadelphia’s top goal-scorer, Julian Carranza came off their last match against Queretaro FC in the 81st minute with an apparent hamstring injury and is questionable against Inter Miami.
The Union required a goal in the 101st minute against Queretaro from 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick Chris Donovan to get to the semifinals.
Philadelphia still has an xG of 9.06 — just behind Inter Miami’s 9.16, so they are still an offensive threat, but they have the least amount of goals in the tournament of all four teams left standing.
But Philadelphia is no slouch as their defense has given up just four goals in their five Leagues Cup matches.
Inter Miami Is Coming In Hot
Add to that the resurgence of Robert Taylor and (to a slight degree) Leonardo Campana and you have a much more balanced Inter Miami attack to face a staunch Philadelphia defense.
The challenge for Tata Martino and Co. will be to stop the Union on defense.
Coming into the tournament, Inter Miami had a minus-14 goal differential.
In the tournament, the Herons have given up six goals in five matches — granted four of those were against FC Dallas.
And, in two other matches — against Atlanta United and Charlotte FC — the defense wasn’t even tested.
Expect Philadelphia to use similar tactics to that of FC Dallas — a strong counterattack to throw Inter Miami’s shaky defense off-balance.
In the end, I see this as coming down to which defense can make the more critical stops on the offensive side.
I can also see Philadelphia clamping down on Busquets to prevent any outlet passing to Messi.
Both teams have strong offensive prowess and Philadelphia has the edge of being nearly unstoppable at home and having a better defense.
Does that mean Inter Miami doesn’t win? Of course, it doesn’t because I don’t think many outside La Familia gave them a shot to get this far.