"We defended like little boys": Phil Neville sounds off on Inter Miami after draw vs. FC Cincinnati

The crowd at DRV PNK Stadium erupted when defender Christopher McVey equalized at the death for Inter Miami CF in a wild 4-4 draw against FC Cincinnati Saturday night.

But Herons' boss Phil Neville wasn't in a celebratory mood afterward, lamenting his team's porous defense, which squandered a lead on three separate occasions. That included Brandon Vazquez's brace in a five-minute span that gave the visitors a 4-3 lead after 86 minutes and preceded McVey's dramatic equalizer.

"We defended like little boys, we defended naively, we didn't compete, we lacked discipline and concentration,” Neville said, shortly after praising his team’s ability to take their chances. “And that’s unacceptable, unacceptable. Simple balls into the box we didn’t deal with. Simple concentration bits we didn’t deal with. We are in the stage of the season where concentration is the main thing, concentration will get you to win games of football and it’s not going to be easy; you just got to defend and do the right things all the time and defensively we were as poor as we have been all season.”

“ ... We prepared them all week to what we were going to be facing and I feel as if that is a massive, massive, massive two points dropped,” he added.

Conversely, the Herons did score four goals in a match for the first time this season, led by a first-half hat trick from Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuaín, giving them seven goals in their last two home fixtures. But Miami only have four points to show for it, despite the improved finishing Neville has been seeking throughout the season.

"I do feel positive,” Neville said, referring to his team’s offensive output. “I do feel a lot of positives, but the standards that we set as a team is that you still got to take the fact that defending wise it was unacceptable to draw to that Cincinnati team.”

"It's a game that we should've won,” added Higuaín. “We have to look forward. Many points ahead of us. We're three points away from the playoffs."

To further add salt to the wound, FC Cincinnati (7th place) remain three points ahead of Miami (11th place), which would have moved ahead of them and above the Eastern Conference's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line with a win.

“We are in the winning business,” Neville said. “We got 12 cup finals to go. We can’t hang around, we’ve got to go for it. I still think, and I’ve got to watch the game back, I’ve got to watch the goals back, but they were individual mistakes, individual errors, individual lapse of concentrations. It wasn't structure things. And that what’s made me angry, is that for a split second we switched off and we got punished.”

While his post-game comments may be perceived as harsh by some, Neville believes facing criticism will only benefit his team in the long run.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take criticism in life,” Neville said. “And nowadays, people don’t like criticism but I have praised them enough. I have trusted them enough. Tonight, we have to take criticism as a team. Some of the things I saw were brilliant, and some of them were unacceptable and we’ve got to use that anger, that frustration, that feeling we have now to go on a road trip to win games of football.”

With 12 regular-season matches remaining, Miami will try and get back into the win column on Wednesday when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).