Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored in the 64th minute to lift New York City FC to a 1-0 victory over expansion Inter Miami CF on Monday morning in a Group A match at the MLS is Back Tournament near Orlando.
The win allowed NYCFC (1-4-0 season, 1-2-0 tournament) to keep their flickering hopes alive for a berth in the 16-team knockout round, however their point total (three) and goal differential (minus-2) provide little margin for error.
Inter Miami (0-5-0, 0-3-0) were eliminated from the tournament after sustaining their fifth straight one-goal loss to begin the season. The club played with 10 men after Juan Agudelo received his second yellow card in the 90th minute.
NYCFC controlled possession and generally held the better of play before denting the scoreboard on their first official shot of the game.
Alexandru Mitrita lofted a feed from just behind the midfield line to spark a well-timed run by Tajouri-Shradi, who feathered the ball past goalkeeper Luis Robles and inside the left post. The goal was Tajouri-Shradi's first of the season and 17th of his three-year MLS career.
Sean Johnson made two saves to help NYCFC avoid their first five-match league losing streak since entering MLS in 2015.
NYCFC's points were the first for Ronny Deila since he took over the managerial reins from Dome Torrent, who guided the club to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season.
Inter Miami were unable to convert a pair of enticing scoring opportunities during the first half.
A header from Agudelo was denied near the right post by a diving save from Johnson in the 10th minute. Twenty-five minutes later, Nicolas Figal's header from the center of the box required Johnson to extend his arm to preserve the scoreless draw.
Miami defender Ben Sweat entered Monday's contest as a substitute in the 68th minute against his former team after playing in all but three minutes of the four previous matches. Sweat made 72 appearances (62 starts) with NYCFC from 2017-19.
Miami boss Diego Alonso said the poor start hasn't discouraged him or the team.
"I think football in these three or five games has been unjust with us. We've got a lot less than we deserved. I feel in the game today we didn't play as well as the one before against Philadelphia, but the team deserves more and has got little," Alonso said.
"We'll have to keep trying, working. I don't regret being the coach of these players. I'm with them more now than ever. I'm convinced that we'll get out of this believing and trusting in them, lifting confidence and trying to get better in the week so that football gives us the rewards we deserve."