FORT LAUDERDALE — Newly named Inter Miami coach Tata Martino was in the building Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium.
Perhaps it added some extra juice to Inter Miami, but, as he awaits his necessary work documents, he could only watch from a suite as his future club extended its winless streak to eight games.
On one hand, the 1-1 draw against Austin FC was Inter Miami’s first point since May 13. But on the other side, it was a disappointing result for an Inter Miami squad — now 5-13-2 and still last in the Eastern Conference — that failed the bury a handful of scoring chances.
“I spoke with the players after the game and I’m proud and I’m happy the way they played,” interim coach Javier Morales said. “If we continue playing that way, the wins will come.”
Inter Miami’s Josef Martinez scored his fifth goal of the season early in the second half to give Miami a 1-0 lead. He’s now scored against 27 different MLS teams, the most in league history.
Austin FC quickly responded though, finding the equalizer four minutes later.
It was Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver who shut down Miami with seven stellar saves.
“Sometimes we win, sometimes not, sometimes it’s tough,” Martinez said. “We deserve more than the result, but it’s soccer, so we have to continue.”
Inter Miami returned Sergii Kryvtsov back to the lineup for the first time since June 10 after serving his duties with the Ukrainian national team. Kryvtsov started at center back in Inter Miami’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
The first seven minutes were high-paced, with both sides threatening with a share of scoring chances.
Austin won a free kick just outside the Inter Miami 18-yard box, but an out-swinging cross was easily headed away. Inter Miami then had a turn of its own, but sent the kick too far and wide.
Austin right back Nick Lima had the best scoring chance of the half, a crossing header from the end line that kissed the left post and stayed out.
Martinez nearly had a clean look at the goal in the 26th minute, but took one too many touches and Austin’s goalkeeper Brad Stuver swooped in and wrestled the ball away.
He was gifted another chance at the end of the first half on a breakaway, but Stuver challenged brilliantly to cut down the angle.
Third time was the charm though for Martinez at the start of the second half. Midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi roped a perfect cross from the right corner that perfectly split two Austin defenders and found the foot of an unmarked Martinez at the penalty spot. Martinez had time to corral the pass, pick his corner and rifle it into the top right of the net.
Austin quickly woke up with the 1-0 deficit and evened the score four minutes later. A shot from outside the penalty area rebounded off an Inter Miami defender and landed cleanly on the foot of Lima. He quickly ripped a right-footed shot into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.
For Inter Miami, Austin’s equalizer was no death sentence, though. Miami didn’t lose its confidence as it so often has this season.
“We got two options when that happens,” Morales said. “You can just give up and think that we cannot score, or we’ll have to keep working.”
Cremaschi found a break in the 80th minute when an Austin defender overstepped on a pass, but he sent the open shot over the top of the net.
Nine minutes of added time was declared, but Austin and Miami were both intelligent with their defensive moves, eliminating most high-danger moments.
Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender made three saves in his 19th start of the season.
Inter Miami has a quick turnaround with a Tuesday home match versus the Columbus Crew.