• Dan Berridge

Preview: Inter Fort Lauderdale (h).

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

FWhen? Wednesday August 4, 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. BST (5/8).

Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.

How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of the United States. Fox 35 Plus and LionNationTV for residents of central Florida. Radio broadcast is available locally via FM 96.9 The Game, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM. The game is currently scheduled for broadcast on Sky Sports Football in the UK.


Another day, another rivalry game. The Flamingos got a miraculous win against CF Montréal at the weekend, so they'll doubtless be revitalised for this game. That being said, this is a poor Miami team with a poor coach. This is a game that I expect Orlando City to win, with at least a modicum of comfort. I'm not saying it should be a blowout, but despite the presence of Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain, we are the better team. We have a stronger chemistry, mentality and team spirit. We also have superior quality. I think this will be a comfortable win for Orlando City, and I'm prepared to die on that hill. Just like I'm prepared to die on the 'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' had solid character development hill.

David Beckham's appointment of friend and former colleague Phil Neville was always going to be a high risk, low reward gambit. The lesser of the Neville brothers, in a coaching sense, (and that's saying something) found the Lionesses when they were genuinely one of the best international sides. He left them as... Well, not that. His recruitment has been poor too.


The likes of Ryan Shawcross and Kieran Gibbs might be experienced Premier League/Championship stalwarts. But MLS, particularly in Florida, is nothing like playing for Stoke City or West Bromwich Albion. Both are historic clubs, but central Florida is a tropical climate. Neither player is used to playing in this heat. Which is one of the reasons they've struggled so much. When you couple this recruitment method, with the 'Galacticos' style of player acquisition Beckham seems to favour, you get Ls. It's that simple.


Fort Lauderdale's style


I don't even know where to begin. I'm aware I might sound like something of a purple clad broken record, but it's hard to discern what this team is. It's a poor team. Quality individuals, sure. This team is not greater than the sum of its parts, not by a long stretch. It's worse. How is a team with the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain this bad? Well, let me tell you why. It’s because the recruitment has been poor. There are so many examples of when a team has just thrown a whole bunch of names together, hoping that it will all work out. Real Madrid and LA Galaxy, at various times, are two such examples that jump to mind. Ricardo Moreira told me last year, that there’s so much that goes into effective recruitment. It feels like Fort Lauderdale have just thrown a bunch of big names together, with a less than stellar supporting cast. They did hire Paul McDonough though, so that’s hardly surprising.

Quotes from the articles in figures 1 and 2, sort of sum it up really. Matuidi came in wanting a cushty life in South Florida, whilst Gonzalo Higuian wanted a vacation. If you hire people, even the best people, for the wrong reasons It’s not going to work out. Combine that with a coach as tactically inept as Phil Neville, and you have a recipe for disaster. Which is exactly what is happening. Dead last in the league, an XG of 0.89, average SPG of 11 and an 8% conversion rate means that Fort Lauderdale ranks 26/27 for goals scored. Only Austin has scored less than Fort Lauderdale’s 12. Of those 12 goals, Mr. Cigar has 7. I’d say one man team, but I feel like the word ‘team’ is generous.


They don’t fare much better on defence either. They rank 7/27 in terms of most goals conceded. Their defence is breached 1.71 times per game, with the ball nestling in their net every 53 minutes. They have kept a clean sheet in 7% of their games so far. That’s me making it sound better than it is by the way. That’s 1 clean sheet in 14. I don’t want to be as crass as saying this is a bad team, but it’s a bad team.

Figure 1 is an article from just after Blaise Matuidi's signing, featured in the Sun Sentinel (may not be visible to European readers).

Figure 2 is an article on the infamous Gonzalo Higuain cigar quote, featured on 90min.com



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Team news


Phil Neville doesn't have too many absentee or injury concerns heading into this one. Probably a good thing really, as it's going badly enough as it is. Ian Fray, Joevin Jones and Rudolfo Pizarro are all carrying undisclosed injuries, and are set to miss out as a result. EDIT: LGP is suspended for yellow card accumulation.


As for Orlando City, things are starting to look up. Whilst Pedro Gallese will likely miss out, Mason Stajduhar stood in well against Atlanta. Adam Grinwis also made an emotional return to the club, so we have adequate depth at 'keeper. Brandon Austin has returned to his parent club. Daryl Dike and Sebas Mendez will both sit this one out. There are still question marks over the fitness of Alexandre Pato and Junior Urso.

Possible starting XI


Inter Fort Lauderdale aren't too familiar with the concept of winning. What is win? Mediocrity is their marque déposée. That being said, they somehow staged a come from behind win against a Montréal side that has impressed so far this season. I think they'll keep largely the same team, with Matuidi possibly coming back in:


Top player


Gonzalo Higuain

The Argentine striker is still yet to play with a cigar in his mouth. He's found MLS tough overall, though his form has improved remarkably since his goal against ourselves. He's currently sat with a record of 7 goals in 13 games. That's 0.66 goals per game. Footystats.org currently has him ranked at 14th in terms of MLS strikers. Not too bad. Now he's realised that MLS isn't the cakewalk he thought it was going to be, he has become the lone bright spot for this club.

Form


Inter Fort Lauderdale come into this match off the back of a rare win, coming from behind to turnover CF Montréal. Prior to that, they were winless in 7. That run contained a sequence of 6 consecutive defeats. Only Atlanta United have won less than Fort Lauderdale's 3 games this season, and only Chicago have lost more. Inter Fort Lauderdale are currently rooted to the bottom of both the eastern conference and Supporters Shield standings. The Flamingos are 3-3-8 on the season.


Orlando City meanwhile have exorcised the ghosts of New York. A thrilling win over Atlanta gave them their 3rd win in 7. Their overall form might've dipped in recent times, but the Lions are still in a strong position relative to the summit of both the eastern conference and Supporters Shield standings. Orlando is currently 8-4-4 on the season.

*All statistics courtesy of whoscored.com and footystats.org

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