Inter Miami, Union face off without top scorers

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Inter Miami and the Philadelphia Union meet on Saturday evening in Chester, Pa., but some major names -- notably Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez -- will be missing.

Both Messi (Argentina) and Suarez (Uruguay) are with their respective national teams ahead of Copa America as Argentina, the defending champion, and Uruguay, the 2011 winner, both seek a record 16th title in the tournament.

The success of Miami (10-3-5, 35 points) has basically hinged on the play of Messi and Suarez, who have combined for 24 goals and 18 assists. As Miami looks to maintain its hold atop the Supporters' Shield standings amid a vigorous challenge, the onus is on the remaining players to get results despite the absence of the lethal attacking duo for what could be up to a month.

"I think we're a mature enough group to kind of say, 'Hey, we're still here to compete on our level and to win these games that we have coming up while the tournaments are going on, and then when we all reconvene for after the tournament for Leagues Cup and that last part of the MLS season, that's when we really need to push,'" Miami midfielder Julian Gressel told the Miami Herald.

Leonardo Campana (four goals in 15 matches) will be among those leading the attack for Miami in the interim.

Meanwhile, the Union (4-4-8, 20 points) are on a six-match home winless streak (0-4-2) and will be without leading scorer Daniel Gazdag, who is part of Hungary's Euro 2024 team. They will also miss Jack Elliott, shown a red card in the Union's 2-2 draw against CF Montreal on June 1.

Union head coach Jim Curtin on Thursday said that he appealed to the MLS disciplinary committee to rescind Elliott's red card, but to no avail.

Curtin noted specifically that Quinn Sullivan and less experienced players like David Vazquez and Jeremy Rafanello could fill the holes left by the Union's reduced personnel, though those decisions will be made based on the opponents and formations Philadelphia will face.

"This is an opportunity for guys to step up and we need them to be ready, and the three names I said should be (available for selection on Saturday) and will be deserving and you could see us use them all," Curtin said.

Julian Carranza, the Union's second-leading scorer with six goals, will also be available after missing the past two matches with an ankle injury, per Curtin.

--Field Level Media