Atlanta United-Inter Miami Preview
Phil Neville and his former Manchester United club-mate Gabriel Heinze will lock horns on the sidelines on Sunday, as Inter Miami welcome Atlanta United to Florida.
The duo spent one season together at Old Trafford in 2004-05, before Neville left for Everton, where he spent the rest of his playing career.
Neville's move into coaching came first alongside his brother Gary at Valencia, before he took charge of the England women's national team and then joined Miami ahead of their second season in MLS, while Heinze cut his cloth in his native Argentina prior to taking the helm at Atlanta.
Heinze has had an indifferent start in Georgia, taking four points from his opening three MLS matches, while seeing his side drop out of the CONCACAF Champions League. Neville's Miami have beat Philadelphia Union and drawn with Nashville SC following a first-day defeat to LA Galaxy.
"You always say the team mirrors the manager," Neville said. "The year I spent at United with (Heinze), he's a ferocious competitor. Every day seemed like a cup final in training. The way he played games, he's fearless.
"He left nothing to give. His winning mentality stuck out more than anything and that's what you see from his teams.
"It's going to be a really difficult game, they've invested really well in their team. I know Gabriel really well, I know the types of teams he likes to play and manage. Real intensity."
Heinze echoed Neville's sentiment, saying: "When you look at his team, they play with a lot of passion just like he was as a player. We're going to confront a very difficult, hard team.
"He's a person who helped me a lot. We talk a lot, he gave me advice. Sometimes we fought for the same position (at United), but I have only nice words for Phil."
Inter Miami - Gonzalo Higuain
Having missed last week's game with Nashville following the death of his mother, Gonzalo Higuain should be in line to return for Miami. He has netted in both of his MLS appearances so far in 2021, already doubling his tally of goals from last year.
Atlanta United - Santiago Sosa
Atlanta just did not have enough against the Union in midweek, as Philadelphia edged through in the Champions League. Midfielder Santiago Sosa turned in a star performance for United, however, scoring, registering a team-high 83 passes and three attempts on goal.
- Miami collected eight points, four points both home and away, in four meetings with Atlanta last season. Lewis Morgan scored the first of two braces last season in Miami's first win over the Five Stripes, on September 9.
- Miami's scoreless draw at Nashville was just their fourth clean sheet in 27 MLS matches (including playoffs), with two of those coming against Nashville. The first of the four was a scoreless draw at Atlanta on September 2.
- Atlanta have won five of its last 24 matches beginning with the MLS is Back Tournament last July (D5 L14). The Five Stripes have averaged 0.96 goals per match in those matches after scoring 1.90 per match in its first 113 MLS matches (including playoffs).
- Four of the last five goals scored by Inter Miami players have been scored by Argentinians (G. Higuain 2, F. Higuain, L. González Pirez).
- Miami have scored in nine of their ten home MLS matches, including the last eight in a row. Miami have found the net twice in each of its last three home matches.
Updated May 8, 2021