First Florida Derby ready to happen in MLS regular season History

MLS Florida Derby
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Preview — Soccer is heating up in the sunshine state as the MLS Florida Derby gets under way in the first-ever MLS regular season match between Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC this weekend. The Florida Derby actually dates back to 1975 when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies played in the NASL.

This isn’t the first time Inter Miami and Orlando have played either. A stoppage time goal from Nani saw Orlando take the win in the MLS is Back Tournament just a few weeks ago.

Inter Miami captain Luis Robles on their home debut

“It’s definitely not the home debut that we had all imagined when we first signed on, but I think 2020 really has been about adjusting your expectations and finding a way.” The Inter Miami captain added “… for us it’s just about one thing: Putting together a full 90 minutes as a team and putting together the type of performance that’s worthy of a win.”

Matuidi signs with Inter Miami FC Aug. 13

Miami may have come away with one of biggest signings in MLS history — without using one of their three DP slots to boot, as they used TAM money — by signing World Cup winner and French international Blaise Matuidi. Technically, he is a defensive midfielder but runs box to box helping his teammates on and off the ball.  Matuidi is not expected to play this weekend. However, his signing brings fantastic quality and experience to the MLS.

Can Inter Miami gel on the field?

Miami still have a glaring weakness at striker as speculation around Gonzalo Higuaín continues to mount. There is a strong core to the team, featuring MLS veterans Luis Robles, Román Torres, Will Trapp and Rodolfo Pizarro, running the show in attacking midfield. Meanwhile, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is expected to debut. A list of big names is impressive, but results matter more and the chemistry in the team is yet to show for this Miami squad.

Orlando is on fire but can they keep it up?

Chemistry is not in short supply for The Lions. Coach Oscar Pareja has this playing at a different level than ever before after a run to the final in the MiB Tournament. The momentum that Orlando is riding is important as they look to qualify for the MLS playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Alternatively, it’s easy for a team to come out fatigued in their first match back from a deep tournament run.

Lions still have something to prove in MLS

Orlando has not qualified for the playoffs in their first five season and are eager to reverse that trend. Orlando does rely on superstar Nani but have great complimentary players in attack like Pererya and Juan to support him. Defensively, Antonio Carlos has looked very strong as well as ‘The Octopus’ in goal, Pedro Gallase. The Lions are looking to prove they are serious title contenders as the season restarts on Saturday evening in Fort Lauderdale.