ORLANDO (AFP) – David Beckham’s Inter Miami became the first side to be eliminated from United States (US) Major League Soccer’s restart competition on Monday after stumbling to a 1-0 defeat to New York City FC.
A second-half strike from Libya international Ismael Tajouri-Shradi kept New York’s hopes of reaching the knockout rounds alive while condemning Miami to a first round exit from Group A in Orlando.
In the night match, Mauricio Pereyra’s 70th-minute goal helped Orlando City SC earn a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union and capture Group A. The teams are level on points at the top of the group, however, Orlando took first place because of a superior goal difference.
New York’s 64th-minute winner came via a long ball forward from Romania midfielder Alexandru Mitrita that beat Miami’s offside trap and sent Tajouri-Shradi through on goal.
The Swiss-born 26-year-old needed only one touch before burying his finish past Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Miami’s tournament ended on a sour note with US striker Juan Agudelo being sent off in the 90th minute for a crude challenge on New York defender Anton Tinnerholm.
Inter Miami have now lost all five matches they’ve played in official competition in their inaugural season, the first MLS expansion team to drop its first five league matches.
“Sometimes the road is long and you need to take a breather. Manchester United, Real Madrid, La Liga and the premiership wasn’t built in a day,” part-owner Beckham said after Monday’s latest defeat.
The victory leaves New York in third place in Group A with three points, behind Orlando City and Philadelphia Union.
New York can still reach the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, depending on results elsewhere.
The “MLS is Back” restart tournament is taking place behind closed doors at ESPN’s World Wide of Sports Complex at Disneyworld in Florida following a four-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Monday’s Orlando game was not on the original MLS is Back Tournament schedule. The matchup came about after expansion Nashville SC was forced to withdraw because of a number of positive COVID-19 tests and Group A had to be reshuffled.