Leonardo Campana! Inter Miami saved by unplanned super-sub


Just how unlikely a hero was Leonardo Campana for Inter Miami CF in Saturday’s last-gasp 1-0 victory over D.C. United? The super-sub wasn't even supposed to be on the Chase Stadium field.

With the game scoreless in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, Herons head coach Gerardo Martino had exhausted all his substitution windows. But a head injury to Matías Rojas allowed the Ecuadorian international striker to replace him as part of the league’s concussion protocol.

Within seconds, Campana latched onto a perfect long ball from Sergio Busquets, smashing a half-volley that hit the crossbar before landing in the back of the net for the dramatic win.

The result extended Miami’s unbeaten streak to nine games, keeping them atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with a 9W-2L-4D record (31 points).

"It’s one of those substitutions you make to see if something happens, like it did tonight," Martino said postmatch, freely admitting he had no intentions of even playing Campana once he subbed in fellow attacker Robert Taylor for Benjamin Cremaschi in the 56th minute.

But Campana, who’d gone over two months without scoring, made the most of his unexpected chance to secure a massive result for Miami and improve his 2024 stat line to 3g/1a in 441 minutes.

Confidence boost

"It’s very important for players [like Campana] to be doing well," Martino said. "It’s very important because if they’re not doing well, we can’t maintain what we’re doing with the players who’ll be with their national teams [over the summer]."

And yet those players, specifically the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, were held mostly ineffective by a D.C. United side seconds from taking a well-earned draw from South Florida.

"I think a 0-0 would've been a fair result" Martino admitted, praising the effort from Troy Lesesne's squad.

However, Campana only needed one magical moment to put everything in the right place for league-leading Miami.

"When a team is on the right path, you can find a way to win. And it happened today," Tata said. "Imagine there had been no concussion, [Campana] wouldn’t have entered the match."