Authors Note: This piece has been updated with new information.
D.C. United and Inter Miami CF met for the last time in 2022 in a battle of the strikers. The Black-and-Red dropped points at home, losing 2-3 to David Beckham’s club.
While D.C. United and Inter Miami CF last split points at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Tonight’s match was decidedly more gritty, with Miami’s playoff hopes on the line.
The Black-and-Red started off the match with a fiery intensity, with Ravel Morrison seeking an opportunity in the first minute of the game. While D.C. United continued to create chances throughout the first half but struggled to breach Miami’s back line.
Christian Benteke and Taxi Fountas had some promising moments, building momentum into Miami’s half. Chris Durkin and Andy Najar provided stellar service, trying to find the strikers in position.
Head coach Wayne Rooney has been looking forward to seeing Fountas and new signing Christian Benteke link up on the pitch, saying, “I’m excited to see them both play together. I think the way both of their games are, they complement each other very well.”
Fortunately, Rooney’s intuition was correct. In the 22’, Taxi Fountas made a run deep on the right wing but came under heavy attack from Miami’s Bryce Duke. Then, with a clever parry and back heel, Fountas found a waiting Chris Durkin. Durkin’s laser focus found Christian Benteke waiting, largely unmarked by the left post, and fired him a precise cross.
Benteke took care of business, slotting the ball in behind Drake Callender to score his first in Black-and-Red.
In the 38’, referee Ismail Elfath determined that Victor Pálsson had conceded a corner kick. Aimé Mabika lined up for the delivery and found Leonardo Campana ready and waiting to convert for the equalizer.
The Black-and-Red’s hard-won lead gone, they headed to the locker room level with Miami, 1-1.
Christian Benteke looked to replicate his earlier success after the half, dropping into the final third near the left-hand side of the box. His frustration was apparent as he waited, unmarked for a cross that never came. Rather, Chris Durkin sought out Taxi Fountas, who was heavily marked but squared up with Drake Callender.
Inter Miami wasn’t content with the scoreline, and in the 53’, Leonardo Campana notched a brace, capitalizing on an assist from Alejandro Pozuelo to get the better of David Ochoa.
In the 57’, Taxi Fountas officially announced his return, finding an equalizer for the Black-and-Red by rebounding a free kick.
Taxi Fountas catches it clean and we are level! pic.twitter.com/be6yvBLGFl— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2022
A dust-up shortly after Fountas’ goal saw him and Damion Lowe both booked with yellow cards in the 62’ after a hot debate on the touchline. Head coach Wayne Rooney quickly replace Fountas with Miguel Berry in the 66’, after a lengthy stop to the match and conversation with an MLS match observer.
Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville has confirmed to the media that there was a racist slur used. Hear what Neville had to say:
We stand united on and off the field. pic.twitter.com/pC3Yg7THpM— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) September 19, 2022
Pablo Maurer of The Athletic submitted questions to referee Ismail Elfath, his responses are below:
Here are head referee Ismail Elfath’s answers to my questions about the alleged incident of racial abuse between DC United and Inter Miami tonight. Important to note that Taxi Fountas’ yellow was unrelated to the alleged incident. pic.twitter.com/cYk75Tw4uU— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) September 19, 2022
With eight minutes of stoppage time added to the match, D.C. and Miami went full tilt, trying to find the advantage. As the minutes ticked down, Christian Benteke even tried a bicycle kick to grab the lead for D.C.
Ultimately, it was Inter Miami that found the go-ahead goal. In the 90’ + 4’, Gonzalo Higuaín did what he does best, finding the back of the net off an assist from DeAndre Yedlin. Higuaín remains Miami’s high goal-scorer with 13 goals.
As D.C. United looks ahead to 2023, Christian Benteke said, “I think we need just to work harder. I think first of all because we can talk as much as we want. We have to work harder. And then we have to deliver. It’s all about delivering because we can have the best pitch, we can have the best tools, the best training session, but it’s when you step on the football, I’m sorry, on the soccer pitch, I think it’s all about that.”
D.C. United heads to Canada after the short international break to face CF Montréal on Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 pm ET.
- There’s no place for racism. After tonight, this author wants to reiterate that there is no place for racism in our sport or this world. Racist slurs are completely unacceptable, and this author fully supports players everywhere that encounter racism.
- Old friends, opposites sides - this time anyway. Notably, Inter Miami CF head coach Phil Neville has played with (and against) D.C. United manager Wayne Rooney in the English Premier League and Champions League. Rooney also played with Inter Miami Club owner David Beckham.
- No longer waiting for Benteke. Benteke recorded his first goal in Black-and-Red in the 22’, capitalizing on a beautiful assist from Chris Durkin.
Watch the highlights from D.C. United vs. Inter Miami CF
MLS Regular Season - Game 32
D.C. United: 2 Benteke 22’, Fountas 57’
Inter Miami CF: 3 Campana (39’ and 53’), Higuaín 90’ + 4’
D.C. United: (4-4-2) David Ochoa, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Andy Najar, Chris Odoi-Atsem (Jackson Hopkins 89’), Victor Pálsson, Chris Durkin, Martín Rodríguez (Nigel Robertha 82’) , Ravel Morrison (Russell Canouse 89’), Taxi Fountas (Miguel Berry 66’), Christian Benteke
Inter Miami CF: (4-2-3-1) Drake Callender, Damion Lowe (Ryan Sailor 75’), Aimé Makiba, Christopher McVey, DeAndre Yedlin, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jean Mota (Indiana Vassilev 85’), Gregore, Gonzalo Higuaín , Bryce Duke (Robert Taylor 66’), Leonardo Campana (Ariel Lassiter 86’)
D.C. United: Durkin 43’, Fountas 62’
Inter Miami CF: Lowe 62’, Gregore 68’, Vassilev 90’ + 9’