By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
Week 2 of the 2021 MLS season sounded easy enough for the Union—home opener against a team that was getting off to a slow start in their second season while on a four-game undefeated streak. However, this game turned out to be one the Union would like to forget as they fell 2-1 to Inter Miami. Let’s recap.
The Union began the game in control offensively, but, much to their disadvantage, their shots lacked accuracy. Out of five total shots in the first half, the only one on goal came from a Jakob Glesnes header in the 16th minute. To their credit, the defense had a handle on Miami’s offense, confining the Herons to a single shot on goal in the first half, a chance from Robbie Robinson that glanced off of the crossbar.
The second half saw a more lively start from the Union, which paid off in their first goal of the season, courtesy of Jamiro Monteiro. Despite taking the lead, the offense didn’t let up, as the Union continued searching for an insurance goal as the half progressed.
Unfortunately, the defense is where things got sloppy. Miami equalized in the 73rd minute, thanks to a free kick from Frederico Higuain finding his brother Gonzalo Higuain. This equalizer seemed to light a fire under both teams, who were intent on not repeating their disappointing results from Week 1 (in which neither team collected the three points they were hoping for). Much to the Union’s chagrin, it would be Miami that would snag the game-winning goal, an 83rd minute effort from Frederico Higuain.
In his post-game presser, Union manager Jim Curtin described the overall match as a “good performance” from his team, but acknowledged that the tiny slip-ups were the downfall for the Boys in Blue.
“At 1-0, I thought the group pushed and was comfortable and I thought was counter-pressing well and was defending well as a team,” Curtin said. “It’s the small plays and the little margins that make a difference. It’s been a while since one has gotten away from us like this.
The Main Takeaway: No game is in the bag. The Union have to focus on both MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League this season, which does put them at a disadvantage to teams that only have to focus on MLS (like Miami). That’s not to suggest that the Union aren’t capable of being successful in both competitions, but this is the first year that they’ve had their fingers in multiple pies. They need to find a proper balancing act between the league and the CCL, and they need to treat every game like a final. The Union have something to prove now—there really is no room for complacency.