Fort Lauderdale, FL – Inter Miami can’t capitalize on a Gonzalo Higuain hattrick as they drop two points in a 4-4 draw against FC Cincinnati. Offensively, the Herons looked great in what was perhaps their best-attacking game all season.
Defensively, on the other hand, was not ideal. What was normally a stringent defense gave up too many goals for comfort.
In the post-match conference, Phil Neville even mentioned as much:
Neville said he's" really angry."
"We defended like boys, we didn't compete, we lacked discipline and concentration. Defensively we were as poor as we were all season."
Said simple balls and crosses into the box were missed.
"Massive two points dropped."#InterMiamiCF
— Alex Windley (@aaw_1998) July 31, 2022
With only a handful of games left in the season, dropping points at home isn’t good for Miami’s playoff hopes. With that, here are three takeaways from Miami’s draw vs FC Cincinnati.
Invest In Defense This Winter
Inter Miami has done a great job at revamping their roster.
Acquiring players such as DeAndre Yedlin, Robert Taylor, Leonardo Campana, etc, has given the club new blood in what was a stagnant 2021 roster. Nevertheless, there’s still room for improvement.
Christopher McVey has been IMCF’s iron man. The 25-year-old has played every minute of the team’s 2022 MLS campaign. He’s been solid, but, he’s been asked to do a lot positionally. Looking at Miami’s match against NYCFC, it’s clear that McVey looks the most comfortable playing as a center-back.
Throughout the season, mainly due to injuries to Kieran Gibbs, the Swede has been pushed out wide to left back. Last night’s game vs Cincinnati showed that there are some weaknesses there.
For example, this is far to slow to get back into defensive shape. Players are out of position, and it just looks messy. Too easy for Cincinnati. #MIAvCIN #InterMiamiCFpic.twitter.com/niZxNv5MBu https://t.co/39undm3yDB
— Alex Windley (@aaw_1998) July 31, 2022
While McVey has done a serviceable job at that position, it may be time to invest in a lockdown starter this coming winter.
MLS has a myriad of capable left backs that could fit into the current role McVey occupies. Miami could trade within the league for a starter, then slide McVey back over to his preferred position to partner next to Damion Lowe. Of course, this would all happen heading into 2023, but it’s something to ponder as the 2022 season comes to a close.
‘Coco’ Makes His Debut
After a month of waiting in a hotel room in France waiting for his visa, Corentin ‘Coco’ Jean finally made his Inter Miami debut. The Frenchman came on in the 80th minute to much fanfare. Although he only had 9 touches, Jean got the game-tying assist on McVey’s wondergoal:
🇫🇷 ➡️ 🇸🇪 pic.twitter.com/cpPAjrowpa
— Inside The Touchline 🔢⚽️ (@touchlineinside) August 1, 2022
Is Gonzalo Higuain back to his 2021 best? It appears so! The 34-year-old has scored five goals in his last four matches displacing his ‘replacement’ Leonardo Campana in the starting eleven.
Watching this Gonzalo Higuain set piece stunner on repeat. 🔄 pic.twitter.com/8cJZIagbjr
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 31, 2022
His performance against FC Cincinnati was historic.
Higuain is the first player in Inter Miami history to score a first-half hattrick. The 34-year-old’s budding chemistry with fellow Designated Player Alejandro Pozuelo looks promising and electric, filling the creative void left by Federico Higuain’s retirement at the end of 2021.
‘Pipita’ looked lively, relaxed, and stepped up when IMCF needed him the most.
Though he’s rediscovered his form, it must be said Higuain’s contract runs out at the end of the season. The club does hold an option to extend, but, given his hot and cold streak this year, would it be wise to return the former Argentina international? Or should the South Florida club continue their rebuild without him, bringing in fresher, younger players that fit their current direction?
MLS is a league where it’s advantageous to have youth in and within your squads. All of the league’s leading goal scorers are under the age of 30 and four of the top five are 25 and younger.
It remains to be seen what Chris Henderson will do, but these last 12 games of the season could be a decent indicator of what happens in 2023.