The Union came from behind for a 1-1 tie at Inter Miami Sunday night in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Robbie Robinson opened the scoring for Major League Soccer’s worst team in the 71st minute, and Kacper Przybylko pushed home an 86th-minute equalizer to save a point.
“As a team, as a coaching staff, we need to do better,” a frustrated Union manager Jim Curtin said afterward. “I promise to the fans that we will do better once we get back at home ... Overall, we’re a good team, but we’re not quite a great team yet. We still have a lot to work on.”
Here are some observations on the game.
The first rule
When you’re playing a team that has lost six straight games dating back to mid-May and has won just twice all year, the first rule is don’t end the streak. This isn’t always easy in MLS, which has so much competitive balance that almost any team can beat almost any other team on any given night.
But it still matters to say almost, and Miami (2-8-3, 9 points) is really bad. The Union (6-4-6, 24 points) made that clear with the quality of chances they produced early in the game, and Miami made it clear with the quality of chances that Gonzalo Higuaín created and teammates whiffed on. (Higuaín also came up short on a few of his own shots.)
So it was disheartening that while the first half was quite entertaining, the Union were outshot, 7-4, and put just one shot on target. It was still scoreless in the 62nd minute when Curtin withdrew Jamiro Monteiro for Sergio Santos, a player perfectly suited to breaking through Miami’s defense.
The Union looked better once Santos came in. But in the 71st, Robinson finally got it right and hit a shot from a tight angle that Union goalkeeper Matt Freese only got a piece of.
Mbaizo beaten again
Sure, Freese should have stopped Robinson’s shot from a tight angle, but Olivier Mbaizo was an even bigger culprit. He was ball-watching in the buildup to the goal when Miami left back Brek Shea passed forward to Higuaín in the middle, and as Higuaín turned, Robinson ran behind Mbaizo into clear daylight.
Mbaizo was toasted so badly that by the time Robinson shot, Jack Elliott had a better chance to block the ball.
Gazdag up front
In an effort to rotate the lineup and get Leon Flach on the field, Curtin moved Santos to the bench and Dániel Gazdag up to the front line. Gazdag looked great early in the game, but had just 12 touches in the first half and 38 in the game.
He looked better after Monteiro’s exit, when he moved back to the attacking midfield spot. But he didn’t do enough, and the Union need to prioritize getting him on the ball more.
Ilsinho sub came too late
Ilsinho was on the bench for the first time since his groin surgery in May. It was clear early in the second half that Miami’s defense would give him enough space for an easy return to action — and give a 4-3-3 with Santos, Przybylko, and Ilsinho across the top a lot of opportunities.
The rest of us aren’t at practice every day, of course, but it seemed from here that Ilsinho should have entered the game before the 83rd minute. It didn’t seem coincidental that once he entered, the Union started spreading Miami’s defense out more, and got the tying goal three minutes later.
Quinn Sullivan also looked sharp after replacing Alejandro Bedoya in the 76th, Bedoya’s earliest exit since May 2. That was good to see. (And before you fire e-mails this way, know that Curtin agreed with The Inquirer’s analysis on Sullivan being Bedoya’s best backup well before the piece was written.)