Inter Miami bring 3-match win streak into Charlotte

Charlotte FC do not have to wait a full week after a discouraging performance, but the search for improvement will have to come against the league’s best team when Inter Miami visits on Wednesday night.

“We’ll prepare like we do any game,” Charlotte FC coach Dean Smith said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s a team who’s at the top of the table at the moment. It’s our opportunity to test ourselves against the best.”

Miami (13-3-5, 44 points) went 3-0-1 in June and is on a three-match winning streak, with all of them ending in 2-1 scores.

Even without star Lionel Messi, who is with Argentina’s national team for Copa America 2024 and hasn’t been available for the past three games, Miami is formidable.

Miami coach Tata Martino said his team has enough firepower to make it through the roster shortage.

Jordi Alba scored in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Nashville.

“I’m not surprised because he’s a player with so much category and quality,” Martino said.

Alba, 35, is highly experienced, making his contributions invaluable.

“He puts me at ease for what he gives the team and the options he gives us in attack,” Martino said.

Charlotte (9-7-5, 32 points) lost 1-0 on Saturday at Houston, ending a four-match unbeaten string. It also marked the first time in six contests that Charlotte failed to score, though the two previous times it happened were 0-0 draws on its home field.

“We had so many opportunities,” Smith said.

Smith made substitutions for different reasons in the Houston match, but that might make a couple of key contributors fresher for Miami’s visit.

Midfielder Benjamin Bender was removed from the match to start the second half, and forward Patrick Agyemang departed in the 67th minute.

Smith said Agyemang was becoming so frustrated that it was best to get him out of the match.

“It wasn’t his best night,” Smith said. “I probably had to take him out to protect him because he wasn’t being protected elsewhere.”

Miami will assess the status of midfielder Diego Gomez, who played 80 minutes Saturday in his first match action since April 20 as he came off an ankle injury. With only three days between matches, it could be tricky to have him in the lineup.

Extreme heat at match time could be a factor, but Smith downplayed the concern, saying his team has played in several hot conditions lately.

–Field Level Media