Inter Miami managed a chaotic 4-4 draw against FC Cincinnati on Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium, as goals from Chris McVey and Gonzalo Higuain equalized the efforts of Brenner and Brandon Vazquez.
But head coach Phil Neville was not impressed with the score, lamenting his team’s poor defensive performance that allowed for the four goals at home.
“We defended like little boys, we defended naively, we didn’t compete, we lacked discipline and concentration. And that’s unacceptable, unacceptable. Simple balls into the box we didn’t deal with. Simple concentration bits we didn’t deal with,” Neville said after the match.
“We are in the stage of the season where concentration is the main thing, concentration will get you to win games of football and it’s not going to be easy; you just have to defend and do the right things all the time and defensively we were as poor as we have been all season… We prepared them all week for what we were going to be facing and I feel as if that is a massive, massive, massive two points dropped.”
Gonzalo Higuain opened up the scoring in the 23rd minute, before Brenner matched his efforts only five minutes later. The same thing happened again, with a goal from Higuain coming in three minutes prior to Brenner’s second.
A last minute penalty by the team captain inspired Inter Miami to head into halftime with the upper hand, but only FC Cincinnati came back stronger to regain the lead.
Brandon Vazquez’s goals in the 81st and 86th minute led fans to believe it was all over, however, Chris McVey had the final say with an extra time goal to send DRV PNK into a frenzy and earn one point.
“I do feel positive,” Neville said, referring to his team’s offensive output. “I do feel a lot of positives, but the standards that we set as a team is that you still got to take the fact that defending wise it was unacceptable to draw to that Cincinnati team.”
The result leaves Inter Miami in 11th place on the Eastern Conference table with 26 points in 22 games and a record of 7W-10L-5D. With 12 games left, the team still has the potential to land an MLS playoff spot.
“We are in the winning business. We got 12 cup finals to go. We can’t hang around, we’ve got to go for it. I still think, and I’ve got to watch the game back, I’ve got to watch the goals back, but they were individual mistakes, individual errors, individual lapse of concentrations,” Neville said.
“It wasn’t structure things. And that what’s made me angry, is that for a split second we switched off and we got punished.”
Neville admitted to the harsh undertones in his comments, insisting that criticism may propel this team to glory.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take criticism in life,” Neville said. ?And nowadays, people don’t like criticism but I have praised them enough. I have trusted them enough. Tonight, we have to take criticism as a team. Some of the things I saw were brilliant, and some of them were unacceptable and we’ve got to use that anger, that frustration, that feeling we have now to go on a road trip to win games of football.”
The team returns to action on Wednesday when visiting the San Jose Earthquakes at Paypal Park.