Tag Archive for: Miami

Messi Chooses Miami – A Timeline of When it All Happened

For months, no, years, the Lionel Messi to Inter Miami CF talks had graced every social media user’s timeline. Even before the club had ever played a match, the storylines of a potential Messi move to South Florida were already being written.

Nothing had ever felt concrete, though, at least not until the afternoon of June 6th.

After a ton of local tweets from fans with an inside scoop broke the news, it all started to seem like a reality once many of the more prominent names in sports journalism picked it up too. A source had stated that there was knowledge of the deal on Tuesday morning, and it was just a matter of time before the statements became official by all the parties involved.

Much like the David Beckham deal back in 2007, not only would the MLS club have to pay a player of this magnitude fairly, but the league and other parties would have to join in to make this a lucrative deal worth signing for Messi. It has been reported that Apple TV will possibly share part of the revenue earned from all new MLS Season Pass subscribers upon Messi’s signing, and it has also been reported that Adidas would join in on sharing profits with Lionel Messi to sway him to America’s top league. (Source: The Athletic)

Inter Miami had been competing with the likes of Barcelona and Saudi Arabia, and there was no doubt that it would take a massive deal to sway him away from his long-term club of the past and the hundreds of millions of dollars offered by a now-rich footballing country.

Throughout the night and all day Wednesday morning, even without a valid confirmation from any party, the difference in ticket prices from just 48 hours ago had been extremely telling about where the public saw the potential deal landing. It had been speculated that Lionel Messi’s debut would be on July 21st against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup at DRV PNK Stadium.

A lot of that speculation was derived from the timing of the MLS transfer window and when it would be possible for him to see action. However, the tickets on Ticketmaster for that specific game were shown to be sold out within a matter of minutes of reports dropping on June  6th. A source has stated that the tickets did not sell out, and they were pulled from the site by the club and will be relisted.

And since the firing of Phil Neville, there have been reports that Messi’s old Argentinian coach Tata Martino had been in talks with Inter Miami to join as head coach. When thinking about Messi’s potential arrival, it all would check out.

At noon on Wednesday, June 7th, the “Here We Go” from the soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano, who every person relies on for transfer news tweeted the confirmation.


It must be stated that many others had beaten Fabrizio to the punch for this scoop. The prime example is Michael Ryan Ruiz, who had been giving out knowledge of Messi to Miami rumors and reports for months throughout the season. Local media had always been on the story.

We await official confirmation from the player and the parties involved, including Inter Miami CF.





Inter Miami’s First Three Off-Season Moves

Co-authored By Alex Windley


In what’s set to be the one of, if not the biggest off-season’s in Inter Miami CF’s short history, the club has already kicked off with several big moves before the 2022 campaign. Trading a fan favorite, signing another Brazilain midfielder, and re-signing a depth piece are a few of the many moves to be made before the club’s 2022 home opener against Chicago Fire FC on February 26th at DRV PNK Stadium.

Here are the three moves, broken down:

Lewis Morgan Traded to RBNY

Last Thursday morning, the Athletic broke the news that Inter Miami CF will be trading Lewis Morgan to New York Red Bulls for $1,200,000 in allocation money. 

While a surprise to some, the move shows just how Inter Miami is going to have to deal with the upcoming sanctions handed to them by MLS following the result of the Matuidi Investigation earlier this year. 

The sanctions are/were as follows:

  • $2 million fine to club
  • $200k fine to managing owner Jorge Mas
  • $2.27 million reductions in allocation dollars in the 2022 and 2023 seasons. 

What’s noteworthy about this trade is the large sum of allocation dollars that Miami will be receiving as the result of the transaction. The $1.2 million in allocation money that Miami is getting in return does well to help cover the funds reduced by the league (sanctions listed above) for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

When the club announced the trade, it was made public that Miami would be receiving $700k in GAM in 2022 and $500k in GAM in 2023.  Not to mention, following Lewis Morgan’s MVP 2020 season, the club handed him a contract extension that included a pay raise. The salary increase was enough to warrant Lewis Morgan dollars from Miami’s Targeted Allocation Money. Getting that money off the books will bode well to reduce the harm of the sanctions and give the potential to bring in more quality signings.

It is projected that approximately $1.3 million for the 2022 season is being reduced. By receiving 700k in GAM and getting a TAM contract off the books, Miami has indeed freed themselves for more opportunities in terms of bringing in players. As for 2023, Miami has gotten ahead by starting to eat away at the upcoming sanctions that aren’t directly affecting them yet.

Sporting Director Chris Henderson was handed a tall task when he took the Miami job, and this decision about a fan favorite is undoubtedly just one of the many challenging moves he’ll have to make in the coming weeks. 

Lewis Morgan had not only played but started in every Inter Miami match in the club’s short two-year history. After five goals and five assists in the 2020 season and some lights-out play that helped Miami reach the playoffs that year, Morgan was named the club’s first-ever team MVP. In 2021, his production fell way short of expectations under Phil Neville, partly to do with a position switch for a large chunk of the year. Morgan was asked and delivered on playing as a right-wing-back in 2021 and an attacking player. The defensive task asked of him took away a lot of potentials for him to be able to produce on offense; however, the club may still have wanted more from Morgan in terms of production. 

Jean Mota Headed to South Florida

After signing Gregore in early 2021, Inter Miami adds another Brazilian to their roster with the acquisition of 28-year old midfielder Jean Mota.

Mota, a versatile player who can play as a central midfielder or left-back, is the first of many building blocks to be laid during the Heron’s offseason roster overhaul.

The signing of Mota has been a long time coming.

Reports of the Brazilian’s move have been circulating since late October; recently, Miami made those reports official.

Inter Miami Sporting Director Chris Henderson had this to say about the signing: “He’s a well-rounded, versatile and very smart player on the pitch. He checked every box through our diligent recruitment process, and we are excited to see him represent the Inter Miami badge.”

According to reports out of Brazil, Mota’s transfer fee will be around $534,883.20. For a player in his prime and a position of need for the club, this signing is a low-risk, potentially high reward for Inter Miami.

On the field – presumably, Mota would slot in alongside Gregore.

The Brazilian duo should make a formidable pairing.

Gregore, Inter Miami’s 2021 season MVP, would be the more defensive player of the two, which will allow Mota to get up and down the pitch, giving Miami more dynamic movement in a position that has been stagnant since the club’s inception.

While Mota isn’t a world-beater by any means, he’s much more mobile than previous players Miami has had in his position. His left foot can be dangerous when given time and space, and if the Herons are hit by the injury bug again next season, the 28-year-old can comfortably fill in left-back when needed.

Mota isn’t the flashiest player, but his signing is the first step in a long road ahead for Inter Miami.

Miami Re-Sign Victor Ulloa

Though he’s not a name that stands out on the team sheet, Victor Ulloa’s leadership and ability to be a “Swiss Army Knife” for Phil Neville in 2021 saw him re-signed and awarded a new two-year contract.

Following being traded for by Miami from FC Cincinnati in November of 2019, Ulloa has been a staple in Inter Miami’s roster in their first two seasons. As a result of the trade, Miami took in the previous contract Ulloa had been given that saw him making $220,000 a year. Miami then announced that the option to retain Ulloa on that deal was declined for 2022 and has since announced Ulloa on a brand new agreement for potentially less money.

As Miami is set to face financial sanctions, hitting on value deals will be at the forefront of every deal they’ll make this offseason.

Having a player as versatile as Ulloa in a physical league like MLS is key to keeping your season consistent. As Miami suffered an injury bug in 2021, it was the 29-year-old who stepped in to fulfill whatever position was needed.

Be it as a right-back, a 10, or a deep-lying midfielder, Ulloa did all of that and then some.

As Inter Miami head into their first year of sanctions – even though some of that money was alleviated by Lewis Morgan’s trade to the Red Bulls, re-signing a player like Ulloa on a (presumably) less expensive contact will give Miami tons of flexibility.

Although he only started 14 matches on the field, Ulloa showed that he’s capable of making an impact when given the opportunity.

His knack for the high press and tireless work rate made him a player that Neville often relied on.

Not only is he valuable on the field, off the field, but his contributions to the South Florida community also earned him a nomination for MLS Humanitarian of the Year.

The off-season rebuild won’t be easy, but re-signing a player that is a steady presence in the locker room and is an exemplary professional will go a long way in maintaining a club philosophy and DNA.


Where should Miami look for its next coach?

This week the University of Miami’s athletic director, Blake James was dismissed, which means Manny Diaz is likely not far from being dismissed himself, even after beating Virginia Tech, 36-28, on Saturday.


Typically an AD coming in likes to be able to pick his own guy to lead the football program. That is especially the case in places like Miami where football is king. A comparison is that when a new GM is hired in the NFL they usually want to have their guy as the Head Coach. Moving forward there are two ideal candidates for the Hurricanes to replace Manny Diaz.


First being Oregon coach Mario Cristobal which would be a home run hire for Miami. He played at Miami in the great days of the program and has built Oregon into a program contending for conference championships year in and year out. Oregon has won the last two Pac 12 titles and favored to do so again this year. He is so an elite recruiter and has Oregon with the #10 ranked class in 2022. If he can recruit like that at Oregon he’ll kill it at Miami.






He knows the Florida recruiting base like few other coaches would. If Miami can keep south Florida kids home that will make the rebuild significantly easier. Now many people may be wondering why he would leave an established team like Oregon for a rebuild? Don’t underestimate the want to win from Miami boosters and for Cristobal don’t underestimate returning home as the head man. If he could lead Miami back to what they want to be he’ll be a legend forever in South Florida. Ultimately I won’t be surprised if Cristobal returns home should Manny be let go as many think will happen at the end of the season.


Second choice would be a very good option as well in Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. Many may not realize but Kiffin was the man to transform Alabama’s offense from run heavy to modern day spread. Doing so allowed Nick Saban and Alabama to keep the dynasty alive by adjusting to current times. Kiffin is now at Ole Miss leading explosive offenses with Heisman hopeful QB Matt Corral. If he can get those type of offenses in Mississippi, he can do great things with Florida athletes. 


QB Tyler Van Dyke has shown real promise and to have someone like Kiffin coach him up would be something great to watch for Miami fans. Kiffin has always been popular with the recruits but put him in Miami and he’ll recruit like Miami hasn’t in sometime. Muffin’s teams have struggled on defense in the past but Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin has greatly improved Ole Miss’s defense this year. If Kiffin can bring Durkin to Miami this would be another hire Hurricane fans should be thrilled about.



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Dolphins display dominance on both sides vs Falcons

A laser sharp Tua Tagovailoa, combined with an opportunistic Dolphins defense, shut down the Atlanta Falcons 37-17 on Saturday. With a redacted preseason now at three games, the middle contest served as the dress rehearsal for the Miami Dolphins.

Tua’s Starring Role

As in the opener against the Chicago Bears, Tagovailoa once again came out of the gate poised and effective.

After a full offseason to strengthen his body and mind, Tagovailoa looks like the quarterback many predicted to be the top pick before his hip injury ended his college career.

In two preseason contests and playing roughly a full game total, Tagovailoa is 24-of-34 with 282 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Even then, statistics don’t tell the full story. On film, Tagovailoa looks much more comfortable in the pocket, despite an uneven offensive line performance once again.

The game plan was to get the ball out quickly and it was an effective strategy. Miami’s offensive line was inconsistent in pass protection but was much more effective in run blocking this time around.


Also, Malcolm Brown was featured more in this game and had a team high 10 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were quiet on the ground, but both made an impact as receivers. Gaskin finished tied for the team lead with four receptions, while Ahmed chipped in two catches for 19 yards.

Not everything was wonderful, however. An early injury scare to rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle gave the home crowd at Hard Rock Stadium reason to pause.

Thankfully, Waddle seemed to recover and shortly returned to action, finishing with three receptions for 21 yards.

Sam Eguavoen Electric in Return

The unquestioned star of the evening was linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who returned to action from the reserve/COVID-19 list just in time. Eguavoen was a one-man wrecking crew, finishing with 11 tackles and a remarkable four sacks.

His final sack of the evening also resulted in a safety on Falcons QB Felipe Franks in the third quarter. That put the Dolphins up 23-3 and kept the excitement high. The rest of the Miami reserves were also much better in this game compared to last week against Chicago.

All in all, it was a very complete performance for the Dolphins and the team played hard for a full 60 minutes. They were disciplined and committed just two penalties for 19 yards, while not turning the ball over once.

Up next the Dolphins will close out the preseason with a trip to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Inter Miami CF Defeat Toronto FC 3-1, Extend Home Winning Streak

Inter Miami CF extended their home winning streak Saturday night after a 3-1 win over Toronto FC. A brace from Rodolfo Pizarro will lead the headlines, as his renowned “joker” celebration came out for the second and third time all season in Saturday’s match.

The win marked the fourth time in a row that Inter Miami has won at home, and this comes after not winning a home match all season before.

Rodolfo Pizarro opened the scoring in the 15th minute after a Gonzalo Higuain pass found him at the top of the box. Pizarro beat his defender with a chop and beautifully placed the ball into the back of the net with a left-footed finish that found the bottom corner. The play stemmed from a Kieran Gibbs sliding interception to take back possession from Toronto, which highlighted how well Miami pressed upfront in the match.

Just twenty minutes later, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, from his center back position, found himself in a place to make an outside-the-foot pass through to Robbie Robinson on the left-wing. Robinson received the pass in stride and beat Toronto defender and former United States International Omar Gonzalez to get a left-footed shot past the keeper and right under the crossbar for the goal.

With a 2-0 lead, Miami was in the driver’s seat. Miami was able to hold on to the 2-0 lead in the first half despite a couple of nervy possessions in which the defense gave up a couple of fouls in good areas.

Toronto came very close to scoring on a free kick taken by the 5’2 man, Yeferson Sotledo, in the 27th minute as he hit the crossbar from just outside the box.

It was only right after the second half began that Inter Miami scored their third goal. LGP found Pizarro with an over-the-top through ball, and he finished with a chip over the keeper from outside of the box. It was a magnificent finish from the Mexican International, who was on pace to score the first hattrick in the club’s history.

He was later subbed off before he could achieve that feat.

Noticeably, Pizarro walked off the pitch disappointed, and Neville touched on it post-game.

“He wanted the match ball; he wants to score goals,” Neville stated. “I loved his reaction when he got angry when he came off.”

Kieran Gibbs became the fourth goalscorer of the night, but not how he or the club would have wanted. Toronto lined up for a set-piece, whipped in a cross, and Gibbs scored his second header of the season as an own goal.

That own goal ruined Miami’s chances of getting their second clean sheet on the year. As they still search for their first shutout since May 2nd (0-0 away at Nashville), it’s a good thing the offense is clicking and scoring goals.

Miami matched their highest goal number in a game with three and have now scored six in their last two games, both in which they won.

The 3-1 scoreline, in the end, was a great and much-needed result for Miami as they defeated the worst team in the Eastern Conference. At the same time, with Chicago’s loss to Orlando City following the match’s conclusion in Fort Lauderdale, Miami jumped to 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

Inter Miami CF ended the night five points out of a playoff spot, with two games in hand on the teams above them.

On Friday, August 27th, Miami plays in Orlando to take on OCSC for the third and final time in the MLS Regular Season.

5 from Juan: Observations from First Day of Dolphins Practice

Welcome guys and gals to something I’ll try to do once a week but figured it would be a good time to start my observations which will be about the first day of practice. These are going to be my thoughts and opinions sprinkled in with some facts from people that know or were actually at practice. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Tua thoughts:

Tua overall had a decent day as he did score some TDs like the long 60 yarder to Albert Wilson and another on a waggle to Shaheen where he looked off Baker with his eyes to fit it in there, he did have 2 interceptions on the day which people love to bring up. One interception was against AVG in a clear miscommunication with Shaheen where he was either between lobbing it up or coming back to the RB. The other was a pass that was described to me as lazy and batted at the line where Baker got the pick. 

Tua after practice talked at length about the differences between this year and last season with how much time he can spend with guys like eating with them and not having to go back home for a 2-hour zoom meeting like they had to do last year because of covid.When asked about the deep ball he talked about “getting everything down with guys, knowing where guys are going to be, and how they run certain routes..”. 

Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly and others have noted him taking the next step of leadership with bringing in guys to work out during the offseason, being a coach on the field, and even after practice where he mentioned “I got to get everyone together talk to the entire offense and I’ll just talk about our evaluation of the day you know how we started how it looks about the middle of practice and then how we finished on and you know I think overall we did pretty good obviously there’s always going to be things we need to brush up and cleanup.” All in all a good first step for Tua, that will give him things to pat himself in the back for while also giving him things to improve and work on. Remember this was all during install, which as our own Alfredo broke down, is just the Offense running the same play sometimes 3 or 4 times in a row with the Defense knowing exactly what’s coming.

Rookie Update:

We know Jaelan Phillips is playing OLB but a clip came out of him in a coverage drill and man did he look good. Phillips looks like a player ready to take on a huge workload as he looked fluid in pass defense sinking his hips and attacking the ball. Waddle as we’ll talk about next took full advantage of some guys being out and was all over the field and moving fast, like really fast. Holland is a rookie playing a position that usually requires a lot of communication which means he needs to know this defense well enough to not only know where he is lining up but also what the rest of the secondary has to do and how they align. Eichenberg having just been signed before the start of camp will probably has his shot to earn a job. Lastly Hunter Long who as more time passes, more people are standing up and realizing that he has legit talent and could really explode and be a top TE in the league.

Fuller leaves practice early

I can confirm Mando’s report of Fuller leaving practice early. Nobody seems to have seen him go down or even limp off the field, but it is something to monitor because of DVP and Preston starting on PUP. Other guys will have opportunities to impress like LBJ, Perry, Foster, Hollins, Albert, and even Waddle who’s probably the biggest benefactor in that he’s probably taking most of the snaps at WR. Wilson also seemed to take advantage on the 60 yard TD (a duck in some of the eyes of our fans) so these are names that based on the injury history of our top guys, will eventually be needed to not just play but also produce.

X showed up and practiced

After the bomb that X and his team dropped the night before the first practice, many assumed he would be pouting or working with less pep in his step, but I can report that he practiced with energy and showed no lack of professionalism with his on-field play. After the initial news hit It took me a while to get my thoughts together and I have to say that I feel the most for Byron Jones who had to withstand shots being thrown by a guy who’s opposite of him. I can report that X made it a fact to go and dap up Byron Jones before practice in front of the media.

Flores Song Selection

Can’t tell me nothing by Kanye west was the song used to start practice and to end it. The lyrics go like this:

We’ve seen in the past Flo send subliminal messages through his music selection but this one is as direct as can be IMO. Flores has press conferences every other day so look for his next interview on Thursday, July 29th, to be the one where he gets bombarded by Xavien Howard questions. Shocking that 2 days into camp and we already have so much to deal with and go through but this is the result of being a good team, something most fans this century have no experience with.

All in all, a positive first step for your 2021 Miami Dolphins but it’s only one of many that are going to be needed to get this team to where we all believe they should be, the playoffs. Till next time, Fins Up!


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Miami Dolphins restructure Benardrick McKinney’s contract

Last week, I told anyone that listened how much I liked the Miami Dolphins trade for linebacker Benardrick Mckinney. I believe I said it was a good deal for both sides, and I thought that he was locked up under contract for a few years was beneficial for the team and could allow them to work on deals with some of the team’s other pending free agents. I was wrong! 

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the contract details were a little more than your typical everyday restructure.


Now, the first question I had after reading this is, “where will that fresh $4M worth of cap space go?”

Some might try to spin it as a bigger trade, probably for a certain quarterback to generate clicks and engagement. I won’t do that.

What I will say is that there are three in-house candidates:

All-pro cornerback Xavien Howard is seeking more guaranteed money, though the way he handled himself last night wasn’t the most professional. (It was well-written, I just would’ve preferred it be an email to the team or letter sent by Carrier Pigeon to Chris Grier’s office) Could that money be used to make Howard happy?

Emmanuel Ogbah, on the other hand, wants a new deal and has handled himself the right way. And let’s not forget tight end Mike Gesicki is in line to get paid, as well.


Additionally, McKinney’s restructure made me wonder whether or not the Dolphins were already targeting a younger, cheaper linebacker via trade.

And let’s not forget, if Benardrick McKinney hits free agency, the Miami Dolphins would be in line for a compensatory pick. Something I reckon Chris Grier and the team knew when they made the trade several months ago. But again, I think what McKinney brings to the defense, WHEN HEALTHY, is deserving of a multi-year deal. However, with a birthday later this year and the age of 30 on the horizon, perhaps McKinney was never a long-term solution at middle linebacker?

As with anything in Miami Gardens, no one truly knows what Chris Grier and the Miami Dolphins are doing. But that won’t stop us all from speculating! I will update this article throughout the day with any important news and information regarding Dolphins linebacker Benardrick.

Enjoy day two of Miami Dolphins training camp!


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Five Takeaways from Myles Gaskin’s Press Conference

When the Dolphins waited and waited and waited to take a running back in last month’s NFL draft, two things became crystal clear.


1:Maybe the Dolphins didn’t value the position. After all, most of Miami’s front office and coaching staff have ties to New England (one way or another) and correct me if I’m wrong, but they don’t exactly spend insane resources on the running back position. Yes, they drafted Sony Michel (who will likely be cut soon and the perfect waiver claim for the Dolphins) and Laurence Maroney in the first round. Still, overall, they plug and play running backs the same way that we’ve seen throughout the duration of Flores’ tenure in Miami.



2: Brian Flores, Eric Studesville, and the rest of the Miami Dolphins coaching staff believe in Myles Gaskin. (Something I’ve said all offseason long) And truly believe he can be that workhorse running back. Which, if you’re into projecting numbers, hypotheticals, witches and wargs, and things like that, Gaskin would’ve amassed 1,000+ yards rushing and over 500+ yards rushing. 
I’m not sure we will ever know what the Miami Dolphin’s true intentions were in last month’s draft. But I think it is clear that Myles Gaskin will be the Dolphins starting running back heading into the season. Yesterday afternoon, Miami’s RB1 met with the South Florida media to discuss Miami’s new-look offense and his expectations heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Here are five takeaways from Myles Gaskin’s press conference on 5/17.

One of the first things Myles Gaskin was asked is whether or not he realized he was on pace to be “like the fourth-most productive player in the NFL” last season. Here’s what RB1 had to say:

“I had heard things like that but I mean; I guess it’s like a compliment, but I wasn’t so you know what I’m saying? Like at the end of the day, I liked how I was playing, but I did miss those games and that’s not a factual statement. You never know what happens in those games, so I appreciate that just kind of being brought to light. But that’s my point of being healthy. I’ll just do as much as I can. Obviously, football is football and things happen, but just trying to do as much as I can to make sure my body is able to go through a 17-plus game season with the playoffs.”

Translation | Myles Gaskin doesn’t care what he was projected to do over a 16-game season. He’s working on getting his body right so he can withstand the beating of a “full 17 game season + PLAYOFFS”?!!?!?!!? #LFG


Gaskin on what it’s been like to have his college teammate Salvon Ahmed by his side throughout his NFL journey

 “It means everything. Just having a brother with you at all times and having a guy to compete with. Obviously, we’re best friends off the field, but definitely when we compete, like we’ll be going back and forth. He’ll win some, I’ll win some. We get mad at each other. Like the other day, we were racing and I didn’t even feel like – I lost – and I didn’t feel like talking to him on the ride back. I was sitting in the car just silent. I was so mad. (laughter) So I mean, just having somebody to compete with, especially having like a real friend to compete with, talk about the playbook with, all that type of stuff. Like we’ll be quizzing each other at dinner and stuff like that. It’s cool.”

Translation | Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are BFFS 4 Lyfe and help push one another to be the best players they can be. They probably have best friend necklaces too. 


He then shed some light on Miami’s new playbook now that Eric Studesville and George Godsey are co-offensive coordinators.

Translation | I’m just thankful it’s not Chan Gailey’s playbook. So, I think by default, players are excited and optimistic to see what this offense can do when not being handcuffed by Chanstefer.


One reporter asked Myles Gaskin why it was important to be back in Florida to attend voluntary workouts. The response wasn’t exactly what many expected 🙂

“I’ll just speak for myself. I just needed to get up out of Seattle, to be honest. Florida is Florida, so everything’s open. And just the weather. I mean, I got an apartment here. I’m not trying to – I’m not paying for an apartment not to stay there. So I have my other reasons for myself and obviously, help me learn the playbook being on-site. I mean, we got everything you need here, but there’s definitely a mix of football and just trying to get up – I was living at my parents’ house, so you know how that goes. It’s cool and all until they want you to clean a bathroom or something. (laughter)”

Translation | I love my parents, but I’m the starting running back of the Miami Dolphins. I don’t belong in Seattle, living in my parent’s basement. I had to get the hell out of there! #RunGaskinRun


Gaskin ended his press conference by telling reporters the difference between the running back heading into year three.

“I’m better, I guess. Just more better in the mind, better just physically, just ready to go. I know what I’m looking for. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses and I’m trying to get those all to strengths and even my strengths are even stronger. So I think I just have more of a focus on what – I feel like when I first came in, I was just wide-eyed. ‘I just want to get better.’ But now I’m really focused on what I want to get better at, if that makes sense.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what RB1 can do this upcoming szn.

Projecting Inter Miami’s Defensive Plans

After an underwhelming first season in Major League Soccer, Inter Miami CF has had one of the most significant roster turnovers in the league from last year. Starting up top with the front office and head coach, all the way to scouting directors and players, Miami has made copious changes heading into their second year. The addition of Chris Henderson as Sporting Director and Phil Neville as Head Coach (or Gaffer, as I like to say) has already seemed to make MAJOR impacts on this roster as their influence on signings has been very, very evident.

Much of Inter Miami’s problems last year stemmed from inconsistencies in the defense. If Leandro Gonzalez Pirez never signed for the South Florida club, it’s hard to imagine just how much worse their inaugural season could have been. Roman Torres would’ve likely never been traded. The club would’ve probably relied on him, Nico Figal, and Ben Sweat, A.J. DeLaGarza, Andres Reyes, Alvas Powell, or Christian Makoun as options in Diego Alonso’s three-at-the-back formations. Things got ugly for Inter Miami defensively early on in the summer of 2020. It carried on through to the playoff match in Nashville that resulted in a 3-0 defeat due to a lack of identity, focus, and defensive help.

The additions of Ryan Shawcross, Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, Kieran Gibbs, Patrick Seagrist, Aime Mabika (I think), and Ian Fray were all made by the new men in charge to help create a better defensive identity in Phil Neville’s projected 4-3-3 formation this season. Here’s how:

Wing-Back Additions

One of the weakest points all of last year was our lack of depth and starting quality and the wing-back position. On the left, it was a mix of Ben Sweat and Mikey Ambrose. On the right, we had one game of Alvas Powell in Los Angeles, and it went so poorly that we didn’t see him until the last couple of games of the season. Nealis and Figal were the replacements there.

Sweat and Ambrose have moved on to Austin FC and Atlanta United, respectively. Both guys delivered some excellent moments on the offensive side, including this beauty from Mikey to seal our spot in the playoffs:

Sadly our two left-backs pretty much had more of a positive impact on offense than they did on defense, which led to trouble. As for the right side, Dylan Nealis, in his second year, is still unproven despite a decent rookie season, and Figal should be seen as center-back where statistically, he’s been more effective.

Needless to say, changes were needed. Additions were to be had. Chris Henderson and the Miami Front Office delivered.

It started with a trade for Patrick Seagrist late in 2020 from the New York Red Bulls. The tenth pick of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft only made three appearances for the Red Bulls and is unproven in the league thus far. In a piece for Five Reasons when the deal happened, I discussed how Seagrist would fit into the side but ultimately stated he likely wouldn’t be a full-time starter. He needs more time. That left only Brek Shea as a potential starter at the left-back position until Chris Henderson called a familiar face.

Joevin Jones signed as an MLS Free Agent at the beginning of the month, and it all seemed to be worked out on the left side. The two-time MLS Cup Champion would walk into the starting XI. At 29 years old, coming off a good year with Seattle, Jones is ready to play and should provide some comfort for fans on the defense’s left side. At least until July.

Rumors of Kieran Gibbs joining Inter Miami had been around for quite some time. For the most part, it seemed unlikely after the Jones signing, and even before then too. Gibbs is currently West Bromwich Albion’s highest-paid player and rarely sees the pitch. Getting Gibbs to come to South Florida would have always entailed waiting until his contract ends at the end of June. There’d be no reason for the player to accept a buyout unless the price was very lucrative, and I doubt either West Brom or Inter Miami would have coughed up any money to do so. If you wanted Gibbs, you’d have to be patient. That was always going to be the case, and it is the case now.

The former Arsenal man was announced officially as a future Inter Miami CF player yesterday on a pre-contract agreement. Gibbs is to arrive on July 1st of this year, and depending on his fitness levels, and how Neville sees the team then, he’ll likely walk right into the starting lineup as a left-back.

So what does that do for Jones then? Is he to lose his position in the team? Not really.

Jones has been capable of playing as a winger or wide midfielder in his time with Seattle and the Trinidad & Tobago National Team. Brek Shea, for example, was used as a presence off the bench in wide areas, and when Gibbs arrives, I see Jones as the same kind of threat. Whether it be starting up top or coming off the bench, Jones will be utilized in this team even if Gibbs is to go in and take the starting role at left-back. At the very least, Jones is Gibbs’ immediate replacement if anything is to happen.

On the same day Gibbs was announced, the club also announced Kelvin Leerdam’s arrival.

Leerdam, the former Sounders right-back (it’s all Henderson), was traded to Inter Miami for just $75k in GAM that is spread over the next two seasons. Like Jones, Leerdam is coming off a pretty good year in Seattle and leaves the club having won an MLS title.

He immediately jumps over Nealis as the number one right back on the roster, which does a lot more than solidify the right side. The move for Leerdam now allows Phil Neville to have a starter he can be comfortable with on the right side without having to worry about playing one of his better center backs out of position. With Leerdam as the starter and Nealis as the backup, it’d probably take quite the chain of events for fans to see Figal playing as a right-back this year.

Jones and Gibbs to cover the left side, Leerdam, Nealis to protect the right.  Seagrist and possibly Shea could step in if needed.

The Ideal Center Back Pairing

Very simply put, the additions of starting-caliber wing-backs on both sides shows that Figal is CB option number two, behind LGP. There was talk before the Leerdam signing (from myself included) that Figal was a possible option as a right-back, where he played some last year under Alonso. As mentioned, Nealis is still unproven as a starter. Plus, the Shawcross signing gave additional depth in the middle.

I apologize for the Stoke City fans reading these harsh words about your club legend Ryan Shawcross. Still, when you consider all factors, there’s no way Ryan is beating out Figal or LGP for a starting spot to begin the season. He is the number three option right now, and the front office made the signing to have a third quality center back who can start when needed.

Let’s be honest here, LGP and Figal WILL both have a yellow card accumulation suspension this year; you can count on that.

Let’s also be honest about Shawcross.

He has only played in 247 minutes of first-team football dating back to March of last year. Then he came out in an interview recently stating he was “headed for retirement” until he got a call from South Florida. None of that, including his extended injury history in the last 17 months, shows the signs of a guy who will be coming late to a training camp/pre-season (due to the wait on an International Transfer Certificate [ITC] and P-1 Visa) and be ready to start on opening day.

shawcross injury

The Shawcross issues and the Leerdam signing lead to an inevitable Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Nico Figal center-back pairing to start the season. In the primes of their careers, both guys should be ready to lead this team from the back as they were the best pairing of last year. Not to say it’s the perfect pairing or best pairing in MLS, but with a little bit of added chemistry, help from the midfield, and security possibly by the wing-backs, improvement from this duo should be expected in 2021. Plus, Neville should be very tactically strict, and the club won’t see formation changes from week to week.

In order, my CB depth chart looks like this: LGP, Figal, Shawcross, Makoun, and Mabika (if he’s to sign for the first team). Ian Fray doesn’t make the list after his unfortunate ACL injury at the beginning of preseason.

We wish you the best, Ian.

Projected Opening Day Defensive Lineup

In goal, Miami will field John McCarthy, of course. On the left, Gibbs could start, but that’s in July. Jones will be there until then. Both Figal and LGP will be in the middle as the center-back pairing we should look forward to this year. Shawcross as the immediate backup. And Leerdam will take over the right side with Nealis right behind him on the depth chart.

Compared to last season in which Miami fielded a backline of Robles, Sweat, Figal, Torres, and Powell on opening day in LA, I’d say that this is quite the upgrade.

Marlins Sign Detwiler and Leon

Since the announcement of Kim Ng as the new Miami Marlins General Manager, the offseason has been relatively quiet. There were a lot of questions as to what she would do first, and it looks like we finally have our answer. Rather than shooting for big names, she has decided to buy low. The two biggest signings of her tenure happened recently, and although they aren’t stars, they have the capability to make this Marlins team better at a cheap price. 


LHP Ross Detwiler and C Sandy Leon were the initial targets of choice for Ng. Both players serve a role for the “Bottom Feeders” in the upcoming 2021 season. They add depth in two areas that the Marlins were previously lacking in.


Ross Detwiler


The 34-year-old southpaw was signed to a 1 year $850,000 deal. The Marlins bullpen, outside of a few, struggled immensely in 2020. Richard Bleier was the only veteran lefty in the bullpen, and this lack of experience showed up in big moments through the likes of Stephen Tarpley, Trevor Rogers, and Daniel Castano. 


Coming off of a strong 2020 campaign, Detwiler provides more stability to a young bullpen. He effectively becomes a 2nd Richard Bleier. Statistically, the two pitchers are very similar and bring a lot of the same stuff to the table: low MPH fastballs which force them to rely on movement and control to get outs. Bleier was extremely effective last year, and if Detwiler fills the same role, they can split outings, allowing the Marlins to have access to a solid lefty arm every night of a long 162 game year.


Detwiler is not what Miami was directly hoping for but still could play a vital role in stabilizing a young and variable team.


Sandy Leon


Sandy Leon was another name that Miami fans did not expect to see. He signed to a minor league deal that may be worth $1.25 million if he makes the majors. In the 2020 season, the bullpen was a problem, but our catching situation was an absolute disaster. Francisco Cervelli was phenomenal in the few games he played before his injury forced his retirement, but after that, the woes of Chad Wallach and Jorge Alfaro plagued Miami. Wallach cannot hit and Alfaro cannot play defense. Wallach batted .227 (.071 in the playoffs) and Jorge Alfaro had -7 Defensive Runs Saved (-39 over a full season). 


Sandy Leon could be a guy like Cervelli in the right situation. Statistically, he has never been great offensively, but he was Chris Sale’s primary catcher in Boston. He is a good defender, saving runs that we would lose through Wallach and Alfaro. He may never live up to the season he hit .310 in Boston, but he could be exactly what the Marlins needed in the NLDS and need to save runs defensively.


Overall Takeaway for the Marlins


Nothing too groundbreaking going on in the Marlins front office right now. These signings prove that they are willing to go out and find solutions, but also may point to their understanding that this team is not ready to compete just yet. It seems that Kim Ng has taken a slower approach to success in Miami, and we will just have to wait to see if it pans out.


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