The Herons have lost their last three matches in the regular season, while their Florida rivals are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, winning back-to-back games.
There was a lot of hype at the start of the 2021 MLS campaign, a lot of it centred around Inter Miami, but so far, it has not been anything more than that.
The side from South Beach have been disappointing, going goalless in their last 275 minutes of action and losing three games in a row, including two straight to DC United.
It is hardly what David Beckham and the ownership group had envisioned going into their second MLS campaign, especially given the additions of veterans like Gregore, Blaise Matuidi and former Seattle Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam.
Manager Phil Neville inherited a side who won only seven regular-season games in their inaugural MLS campaign and, so far, they have failed to show much progress in their sophomore year, with just two wins and two draws from their opening nine games.
Following their 1-0 defeat last Saturday against the Black-and-Red, Neville praised his team for showing a solid mentality, along with togetherness and a strong commitment throughout the 90 minutes.
The former Manchester United defender may have been impressed with his team, however, the results so far for the Herons suggest that they cannot handle the big stage, which is something no one could have seen coming, given the veteran leadership they possess.
Orlando City have come out of the international break like a different squad, who are back to playing to their capabilities, winning two straight games, as they are right in the thick of the race for first place in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the New England Revolution.
The Lions had a minimal roster turnover during the 2020 off-season, and in the early stages of this campaign, that chemistry on the pitch is evident, particularly at the back where the likes of Antonio Carlos and Rodrigo Schlegel, look poised and compact in central defence.
Through their first nine games, Oscar Pareja has seen his side show incredible patience in front of goal, while making the most of the scoring opportunities provided to them.
They have scored multiple goals in only three matches in 2021 and have only fired more than five shots on target once, and that was on Tuesday in a 5-0 thumping of the San Jose Earthquakes.
When they do get a shot on goal, it usually ends up in the back of the net, with the Lions scoring on eight of their last 12 targeted efforts over their previous two matches.
Inter Miami were reduced to nine men in their previous match, meaning they will be without Gregore and Ryan Shawcross through suspension, while centre-back Ian Fray is out with a cruciate ligament rupture.
Striker Gonzalo Higuain was the last player to score a regular-season goal for the Herons, notching the game-winner in the final five minutes against FC Cincinnati.
Austin had to make just one save against San Jose for his first career MLS clean sheet in his second start for the club.
Striker Tesho Akindele was named to the MLS Team of the Week after notching a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC, and he followed that up with another assist on Tuesday in the rout of San Jose.
Inter Miami possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Guediri, Gonzalez, Figal, Leerdam; Matuidi, Ulloa; Shea, Chapman, Morgan; G. Higuain
Orlando City possible starting lineup:
Austin; Moutinho, Schlegel, Carlos, Smith; Perea, Urso; Nani, Pereyra, Van der Water; Akindele
We say: Inter Miami 1-2 Orlando City
Miami have never lost to Orlando in the regular season, winning both encounters in 2020, and they should be well refreshed heading into this contest on Friday.
Unfortunately for the Herons, the Lions are on a roll, winning four of their last five matches and clicking on both the offensive and defensive side, and they are within striking distance of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, which will be more added incentive to play well on Friday.
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