Recapping Inter Miami’s 5-1 Loss in Austin

Coming off their first-ever point in a season opener in the club’s history, Inter Miami CF was looking to carry any positive momentum from the Chicago Fire match last Saturday into Austin, Texas, at Q2 Stadium on Sunday. Unfortunately, with injuries at play and an attack that has now scored just once in over 180 minutes, Miami couldn’t come away with any points following a dominant 5-1 performance by Austin FC.

First-half goals from Sebastian Driussi and Julio Cascante set the tone for the game, especially in the first half, where Austin FC controlled the match with over 67% possession. Noah Allen, Miami’s 17-year-old wing-back who made his second consecutive MLS start, was beaten to the byline by MLS Veteran Diego Fagundez on the first goal, who found Driussi beautifully with a pass at the back post. Driussi slotted his shot past Miami’s keeper Clement Diop, who seemed slow to attempt a save. Cascante’s goal, which followed the 22nd-minute goal from Driussi by just four minutes, was an easy header from a set-piece play in which Miami’s defender Brek Shea held him onside.

Going into the second half, Phil Neville decided to make changes to get back into the match. From a back five to a back four, Allen and Mo Adams were replaced by Robert Taylor and Leonardo Campana, who played on the left-wing and as a striker, respectively, in a 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-2, depending on where Higuain was). Lassiter was switched from a striker to the right-wing, and Shea went from a third center back to a left-back with Jairo Quinteros and Christopher McVey handling the middle.

Offensively, based on a single statistic, and the most important one at that (goal-scoring), the change in formation was positive. Campana, the Ecuadorean International, bagged Inter Miami’s first goal of the season after receiving a pass at the top of the box from Gonzalo Higuain in the 54th minute. Unfortunately for the Heron’s, that wasn’t before Austin FC had scored their third to put this game out of reach.

In the 51st minute, for the third of Austin FC’s five goals in the match, Miami’s two center backs were split wide open, then caught completely too narrow as Austin toyed with the ball in the area and, after an abundance of passes, slotted home a chance with Diop nowhere to be found.

After Campana’s goal, Austin FC went a little on the back foot and was starting to concede a barrage of chances as Miami was looking more and more lively. Robert Taylor, who was working along the left side, was responsible for five of Miami’s eight shots in the second half, netting an xG (expected goals) number of 0.21. That number is 37.5% of Miami’s total xG (0.54).

Another statistic here: Of Miami’s thirteen total shots in the match, only four came inside the 18-yard-box; one of those four was Leonardo Campana’s 54th-minute goal. For Austin FC and their eight total shots (which netted an xG number of 1.34), all but two shots came from inside the box, and of those six, five went in.

Defensively, Miami struggled to stay compact and shut down Austin attacks before they worked their way into the area. The absence of Damion Lowe was truly felt. As a leader and organizer of his stature, and one who is also able to help distribute out of the back, he was missed on Sunday night.

Obviously, by going down two goals, Neville had to instruct Miami to go for goals in the rest of the match. That, along with the switch to play with one less central defender, was a considerable risk that ultimately didn’t pay off, as Austin FC scored three in the second half and threatened most the time as well.

Austin FC’s final two goals were both scored by Ethan Finley (64′, 90′). A header near the six-yard box from an Alex Ring cross and a shot rifled past Diop from a Fagundez pass set him up beautifully in the penalty box. Those two, and probably the first alone, was enough to do Miami in and send them home with nothing to take from the match.

Miami’s next match is at DRV PNK Stadium against a heavy opponent in LAFC, who roster one of MLS’s best, attacker Carlos Vela.

Miami will look to grab at least another point at home next Saturday before going on another away trip to TQL Stadium in Cincinnati.

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