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Inter Miami’s final preseason games on Sunday against Toronto FC and Miami FC have been canceled due to scheduling conflicts.
The two games, scheduled at the newly-named DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, will be replaced by a 2 p.m. instrasquad match open only to the media and select season-ticket holders.
The club had already canceled three matches in the past few weeks, which means Inter Miami will enter its season opener Apr. 18 against the Los Angeles Galaxy without a single preseason test against an MLS opponent.
Its only preparation matches were against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC, both USL clubs. Scheduled games in Bradenton against the Charleston Battery (USL), and MLS opponents New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC were called off due to COVID-19 concerns with a few cases in the Miami camp and other clubs training in the area.
Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson said it was a mutual decision between the clubs to cancel the Sunday games, as Toronto had a complicated schedule with two CONCACAF Champions League matches over seven days and players getting vaccinated.
Toronto FC, which is based in Orlando during the preseason, announced earlier this week that its players and staff were getting COVID-19 vaccines on Friday after returning from their CONCACAF Champions League 1-1 tie Wednesday against Club Leon in Mexico.
Also, the team is looking to get healthy before its second-leg Champions League game on Wednesday as six players were missing from Toronto’s s lineup on Wednesday, including playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.
“The combination of their CCL game with the vaccinations, and the three hour drive down and three hour drive back, they have another CCL game on the back end, so that was part of it,” Henderson said. “Also, we had played Miami FC the other day, so we were thinking about the balance of our fitness with a game a week out and we thought playing an intrasquad and giving everyone equal minutes, building our fitness, that would be best for us.”
Henderson conceded that it is not ideal to enter the season without any MLS test games.
“All the way through this with all the MLS teams, it’s about being pliable and flexible and adjusting. It’s definitely not a traditional preseason leading into the regular season,” Henderson said. “As we decided to come back from Bradenton as an abundance of caution to get back in our bubble, it’s about getting into the season as healthy as we can and pushing each other as a team as we get new players in and trying to replicate as much as we can a real game knowing we’re not having an MLS opponent.”
Inter Miami’s second season will kick off with a (limited capacity) sellout crowd of 8,000 fans for the game against the Galaxy. The 3 p.m. match will be televised on ABC and ESPN Deportes.