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Inter Miami left to look in mirror after “unacceptable” showing in loss to CF Montreal


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Unacceptable.

That is the word Inter Miami repeated early on Thursday morning to describe the performance put forth in a “bitterly disappointing” defeat that served as a “reality check.”

Inter Miami dropped points at home for the third consecutive time late on Wednesday night, falling by a 2-0 mark to CF Montreal. The loss at Drv Pnk Stadium that included a two-hour rain delay saw the Herons get punched in the jaw with a pair of goals in the opening 25 minutes, and it took the South Florida side until the second half to try and fight back.

Unfortunately for Inter Miami, the damage had been done.

“The first half was unacceptable from us all, myself included” said Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville. “I have got to take responsibility as a manager. As a set of players, we take responsibility for that. We performed better in the second half, but ultimately we were beaten by the better team.

“It is hard to take. It is the first time it has happened this season. I think it is a bit of a reality check for us all in terms of sort of like where we are and where we want to get to.”

That reality check began early. CF Montreal got on the board after 14 minutes, and for the first time in more than five halves of play, when Bjorn Johnsen scored the first of his two goals on the night. He struck again 11 minutes later.

“We lost our way, we looked ragged in the first half,” said Neville. “I think that was probably the most disappointing thing. … Your success is based on a solid foundation and a solid foundation in football is cleansheets and being really difficult to play against.”

While the defense had its issues in the opening stanza, so too did the midfield and attack. Try as they might, the Herons struggled to best CF Montreal’s intense press, and repeatedly lost possession rather easily with a slew of imprecise passes.

The home side went into halftime frustrated and looking for answers, and had even more time to search for them after a lightning delay a minute into the second half forced the teams back into the locker room for what proved to be a two-hour wait.

“During the break it was very emotional,” said central midfielder and makeshift right back Victor Ulloa. “Obviously we were very disappointed we were down 2-0 and we were just waiting. It was a long waiting period so guys got to calm down a little bit and get our senses and thoughts and prepare our second half.”

Inter Miami improved in the second half, but still had some nervy moments at the back Meanwhile, from the run of play the Herons could not test CF Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis en route to finishing with just one shot on target for the first time since last July.

“I think we all have to look in the mirror,” said Ulloa. “We all know what we can improve on and give more. If it is fitness that we need, then we need to get fitter. If it is tactical that we need, then we need to ask the coach about where he wants us positioning-wise. I think everybody is going to have a day to think about that,”

The good news for the Herons is the season is still young, so there is plenty of time to correct the issues that were on display on Wednesday night in a loss that dropped them to 1-2-2 on the year with no wins at home.

Still, there is admittedly much work to do after a demoralizing defeat that has left Inter Miami to look from within first for answers.

“You can have a reality check,” said Neville, “and I think tonight was a little bit of a reality check for everybody in the football club, myself included.”

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