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NYCFC grind out a draw with Inter Miami

New York City earn a point on the road against a Miami missing Lionel Messi and other key players.

© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC clashed with Messi-less Inter Miami at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After a poor start from NYCFC, the visitors found a goal, and ground out a 1-1 draw with the 2024 MLS Cup favorites.

New York City fielded a strong lineup despite the absences of Jovan Mijatović, Talles Magno, and Birk Risa. The game started even, as both sides battled for possession of the ball and wanted to control the midfield. Miami would take the lead in the 14th minute, as Luis Suárez pushed past James Sands to place his header easily past Matt Freese. It was yet another set-piece goal NYCFC was not able to defend.

New York City's Alonso Martínez, who made his first MLS start, did not waste his opportunity and scored off an Inter Miami giveaway. From there, New York kept the game level, mostly due to Freese, but they also squandered many chances that could have earned them a massive three points.


New York City: 10 shots, 3 shots on target, 47.1% possession, 446 passes, 81.4% pass accuracy, 14 fouls, 5 saves

Inter Miami: 14 shots, 6 shots on target, 52.9% possession, 551 passes, 84.9% pass accuracy, 14 fouls, 2 saves

• Inter Miami, Luis Suárez, 14' • New York City, Alonso Martínez, 34'

Attendance: 21,550

Alonso Martínez shines

When Martínez signed with New York City from Belgian side Lommel last season, he arrived in the Big Apple with promise. The winger had eight goals and seven assists in 31 appearances at Lommel. But he didn't see much playing time in 2023, logging just 30 minutes over three appearances.

Fast-forward to this season: Martínez played 23 minutes against FC Cincinnati last week, then made his first MLS start against Miami last night, when he had a great game on the right wing and scored NYCFC's fourth goal of the season.

After a Miami giveaway in the midfield, Keaton Parks played the ball in behind to Martínez, who slotted his shot past Drake Callender and into the back-left corner of the net.

The chances did not stop there for Martínez. In the 49th minute, he found himself in behind once again, but Miami's Sergio Busquets made an exceptional tackle to deny the Costa Rican from getting his shot off in time.

Martínez finished the game with 33 touches and an xG of 0.19. With much competition between the wingers, Martínez may have earned himself a starting spot.

Defense stood strong

Without Risa, who is currently out with a leg injury, New York City returned to the good ol' three-at-the-back formation. Strahinja Tanasijević, Thiago Martins and Tayvon Gray, held down the fort.

Gray played more of a left-back role throughout most of the game (until Mitja Ilenič departed in the 70th minute, and Gray shifted to the right). Gray did an impressive job, winning 80% of his ground duels, as well as making crucial clearances (7) and recoveries (3).

After a somewhat shaky debut against Cincinnati, Tanasijević seemed more composed and confident against Miami. It will likely take some time for the Serbian to settle into MLS, but more experience will help the 26-year-old adjust.

Matt Freese saves the day

It was another outstanding day for Freese. The Ice Man made five saves, preventing Suárez from adding to his tally of five MLS goals.

The first save came in the 12th minute, when David Ruiz tried to sneak a header past Freese's near post, but the 6-foot-3 goalkeeper parried away the attempt. After Miami took the lead, Freese kept it 1-0 after making himself big and saving Suárez's shot in the 22nd minute.

Freese could not be beaten as he made another great save in the 60th minute, once again denying Suárez off the corner kick.

One of Freese's hight-light reel saves came in the 80th minute. Suárez blasted a shot right at Freese's face, but he was able to put his hands up and keep the game level.

Freese now has a 66.7 save percentage and averages 2.7 saves per 90 minutes.

NYCFC is currently 14th in the Eastern Conference but has five straight home games, starting with Atlanta United at Citi Field on Saturday.

• NYCFC, Strahinja Tanasijević, yellow card, foul, 33′
• Inter Miami, Julian Gressel, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 53'
• Inter Miami, Ryan Sailor, yellow card, foul, 62'
• Inter Miami, Tomás Avilés, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 80'
• NYCFC, Malachi Jones, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 88'
• Inter Miami, Luis Suárez, yellow card, poor sportsmanship, 90'

• Referee: Filip Dujic
• Assistant referees: Corey Parker, Kevin Klinger
• Fourth official: Sergii Demianchuk
• VAR: Kevin Stott
• Assistant VAR: Joshua Patlak