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Starting Streak: Inter Miami CF Suffer Fourth Straight Loss

Kacper Pryzbylko’s 63rd minute goal led Philadelphia Union to a tight, 2-1 victory over Inter Miami CF.

In a game that featured over 30 fouls, a red card, and some VAR controversy, the Union were able to see out the victory despite Inter Miami’s late push for an equalizer. The three points gained by Philadelphia secured their spot in the knockout stages of the MLS is Back Tournament. For Inter Miami however, no points from two games only gives them a small chance to advance. They’ll need to win on Monday vs. NYCFC and hope that the three points, and whatever goal differential they finish with, is enough to be a top-4 third place team. Philadelphia will go on to battle Orlando City on July 20th to determine the winner of group A.

The Match’s Opening Moments

Philadelphia opened the scoring with a very early goal. In the fifth minute, Inter Miami struggled to clear the ball away in a threatening area. Robles was faced with a hard, low shot from Kai Wagner, where his touch wasn’t enough to keep it out of the back of the net. This is now Robles’ second conceded goal in two games where he had a touch, but ultimately could not keep the ball from getting through.

Following the goal, Inter Miami responded with positive play. They controlled the game from that point forward, and were rewarded with a goal from a counterattack in the 36th minute.

Lewis Morgan was quick to dribble up the midfield only to find Rodolfo Pizarro for a nice 1-2 at the end of the box. Morgan then played a through ball to Matias Pellegrini, who found Pizarro back in the box and after some nifty footwork, scored.

Miami stayed on the front foot to finish out the first half, and luckily for Philadelphia, no more goals were scored. When the second half whistle blew, Miami still looked to commit numbers forward and control the game.

Inter Miami CF Fought in Second Half

Committing numbers forward gave Miami three good chances to start the second half. Julian Carranza failed to play a perfect ball in correctly. Although the defenders were split, Andre Blake was quick off of his line to stop the threat. Morgan was also faced with a great opportunity but a shot on his weaker foot did not have enough power behind it to beat Blake. Pizarro then had a great run that put him inside the area, but was unlucky to find Carranza on the edge of the six yard box.

In the 63rd minute, Pizarro was fouled about 25 yards out in the corner of the field. No yellow was given. But a failed free kick cross led to Brenden Aaronson sprinting down the field only to find himself with the ball at his feet in a 3-on-1 situation. He laid off the ball to Pryzbylko who did great to get the ball on his left foot on the end of the box and find the bottom corner with a shot. Robles was beaten for the second time in the match. Inter were down by a goal with less than 30 minutes to play.

Subs Doing Work

MLS Veteran Lee Nguyen was subbed on along with MLS debutant Jerome Kiesewetter in the 68th minute following the goal.

In the 74th minute, Carranza was given another great through ball with which he failed to control.

Just a minute later, and seven minutes after being subbed on, Kiesewetter’s efforts in the press almost led him to winning a penalty for Inter Miami. After a long pause in play following a foul, and a review from VAR, a penalty call was disallowed after claims of a handball. Kiesewetter would argue he was pushed in the back.

In what was an amazing chance for Inter to tie the game, Roman Torres won a header from a corner. However, it was met by the crossbar. No luck for Inter Miami late seems to be the theme amongst their first four games.

Victor Ulloa and Ben Sweat were subbed off in the 87th minute for Jay Chapman and Mikey Ambrose. Ulloa looked to be injured after making a game-saving tackle just minutes before. But he walked off the field on his own power.

The eight added minutes gave Inter Miami more than enough time to create chances, and they did. Unfortunately, after a headed effort from Carranza and a missed opportunity from Chapman inside the box, Inter could not convert.

After throwing numbers forward, Miami were caught again with another Philadelphia counterattack. The attack resulted in Andres Reyes fouling a Union player. Reyes would then be seeing his second yellow card of the match. The red card shown will now prohibit Reyes from playing in the match vs. NYCFC on Monday. Diego Alonso will be forced to change some defensive tactics due to the suspension.

Disappointing End

Inter Miami finished the game with 55% possession, over 70 more completed passes, and 3 more shots unblocked. The eye-test would conclude that Inter were unlucky to not come out of this match with at least a point.

July 20th, 9 AM EST is when Inter Miami CF kick off again, this time facing NYCFC. Both teams have started off the tournament with two losses. And they will both be looking for victory and a shot at qualifying for the knockout round.

Grading Inter Miami After 2-1 Loss

Inter Miami is the soccer version of the pre-tank Dolphins of the 2000s. You can see the flashes of brilliance and the capability to go toe-to-toe with anyone, anytime…but you can also see the brain farts, the lack of a killer instinct and the overall lack of discipline of a team that is not only still looking for its first ever MLS win, but also is on life support in the MLS Is Back tournament. Grading Inter Miami is not easy.

All Inter Miami can hope for now is to advance as one of the four best third-place teams with a win against NYCFC next Monday and a combination of other results.

Let’s get into the individual grades for Miami, shall we?

Important note: Only those who played at least 30 minutes will be graded. Those who didn’t will receive an Incomplete unless they did something otherworldly or were vital to the final outcome of the match.

Grading Inter Miami

Luis Robles (6): Second consecutive match with two goals allowed for the captain and 36-year-old veteran, but he bore no real responsibility in either one and prevented the final score from being 3-1 with a couple of key interventions during injury time.

Jorge Figal (2): The 26-year-old from Argentina was mediocre in the tournament debut, but straight up awful against Philadelphia. Incredibly naïve, out of position and nowhere to be seen during the Union counterattack that caught the Inter defense with its pants down after a basic free kick in its favor.

Román Torres (4): Made the crossbar tremble in what would have been the 83rd minute equalizer, but also fell into the defense´s general confusion and did nothing to fix it.

Andrés Reyes (3): Received two yellow cards that turned into a red and left Miami without his services for the final match of the group stage. Slow and indecisive, that may not be such a bad thing.

Ben Sweat (4): Got caught with his metaphorical pants down as the last man standing between the Union attackers and Robles during the second goal. Would not have been that much more embarrassing if his shorts had been pulled down.

Víctor Ulloa (5): Got lost in the shuffle, nowhere near as good as against Orlando City. Couldn´t establish himself and seemed torn between trying to lend a hand to a confused defense or help the offensive effort. Did neither in the end.

Will Trapp (3,5): A night to forget as he was personally responsible for the first Union goal, out of position and couldn´t cover his man down the right side before the cross. Yellow carded in the 38th minute, unceremoniously replaced in the 68th.

Rodolfo Pizarro (6,5): His back-heel pass and goal were a thing of beauty, but he also came and went in the match without being able to assert himself like Miami needed him too. He made a difference, but needs to do it more consistently for 90+ minutes.

Other Grades:

Lewis Morgan (7): The best Inter Miami had to offer in the entire night. The way he orchestrated the goal blazing down the middle before connecting with Pizarro. Finding Pellegrini at full speed was something that should be taught to kids everywhere. His speed was trouble for the Union defense all night long.

Matías Pellegrini (5): Assisted Pizarro for the goal, and nothing else. Muted effort for the Argentinian winger. Replaced by Kiesewetter in the 68th minute.

Julián Carranza (3): I said he is a better striker than Agudelo, but he wasn´t against Philly.   Scatterbrained and wasteful. Could have scored once in the first half and twice in the second. Especially in the 72nd minute with the score 1-1 and a golden opportunity all alone against the goalie that went for naught. He thought he was offside and reacted too late when he realized that he wasn´t.

Jerome Kiesewetter (5): An almost-header of his deflected by a Union defender nearly resulted in a penalty kick for Miami. But VAR reversed it correctly.

Lee Nguyen (4): Missing in action for 30 minutes after coming in for Trapp.

Mikey Ambrose (Inc.): Not much he could do after coming in for Sweat in the 87th minute.

Jay Chapman (Inc.):   Unable to generate much of anything after entering the match alongside Ambrose.   

Inter Miami

Orlando City 2-1 Inter Miami: Grading Inter Miami

Inter Miami had its official induction as a Miami team delivering its fans the first “What the hell just happened?” loss of its brief and winless existence as Nani completed Orlando City’s comeback victory with a 97th minute goal that sealed the fate of Diego Alonso’s squad in the inaugural match of the MLS Is Back tournament.

The match was a rollercoaster of emotions with goals, crazy injuries and a moving Black Lives Matter demonstration by both teams. However, Inter Miami itself was a mixed bag. They will have to make important tweaks ahead of a must-win matchup against the Chicago Fire next Tuesday.

Let’s take a look at how each Inter Miami player fared by grading them individually from 1 to 10.

Important note: Only those who played at least 30 minutes will be graded. Those who didn’t will receive an Incomplete unless they did something otherworldly or were vital to the final outcome of the match.

Grading Inter Miami

Luis Robles (5): Inter Miami’s goalkeeper started out great with an amazing diving save in the 22nd minute with the match still 0-0, but he could and should have done more in Orlando City’s first goal as the ball crossed the box and he remained paralyzed under the crossbar. Nothing for him to do in Nani’s goal.

 

Andrés Reyes (7): Reyes was having a great night as the leader of the five-man defense until Dom Dwyer’s vicious elbow sent him to the hospital in the 58th minute. The Colombian back showed great poise, and his absence destabilized the Inter Miami defense. The tying Orlando City goal came just a couple of minutes after his exit.

Ben Sweat (3): The complete opposite of Reyes. Insecure and full of doubts. He tried to score off a free kick with his hand, but he is no Maradona. He looked lost, and to make things worse Nani´s goal came off a silly deflection off his shin as he clumsily stumbled into a teammate trying to clear a cross in the heart of the box.

Mikey Ambrose (5): The left back was a non-factor against his former team. Didn´t have trouble on defense, but didn´t contribute on offense either.

Jorge Figal (3): The Argentinian veteran is supposed to be a steadying presence, but instead he seemed to be skittish and unnerved by Mueller and especially Dwyer, Orlando City´s only “true” forward.  He wasn’t paying attention and the ball deflected off him after the cross before it found Nani.

Dylan Nealls (3,5): Nealls lost to Nani way more than he won in their personal duel. The difference in speed and talent between him and a world-class player like Nani was evident as the world-class Portuguese midfielder left him in the dust before the assist for Orlando’s first goal.

Will Trapp (6): The central midfielder had the hockey assist in Agudelo´s goal and was crisp and tried to partner up with Matías Pellegrini before being replaced by Jay Chapman in the 79th minute. All in all, correct performance.

Víctor Ulloa (8): Very versatile next to Trapp and did a great job appearing in the box by surprise to serve Agudelo the scoring chance in a silver platter. Inter Miami´s Man of the Match.

Matías Pellegrini (7,5): Talking about scoring chances in silver platters, the 20-year-old Argentinian midfielder was the team´s main and best offensive threat all match long. He should have had an assist in the 8th minute with a great play, but Agudelo missed the point blank shot in the most unexplainable way.

 

Lewis Morgan (6): Another good option on offense down the right side, but he needs to stand out more if he wants to have steady minutes in the long run.

Juan Agudelo (6): Started out like a 2 missing the aforementioned chance created by Pellegrini´s cross, and then tried to score from midfield in the first half. Credit to him, though, for being where a striker should be to score. Got lost in the shuffle during the last 40 minutes as Orlando City dominated.

SUBS

Rodolfo Pizarro (6): The Mexican star came in for Reyes in the 58th minute and tried to provide a spark with his talent and creativity.

Julian Carranza (Inc.): Replaced Agudelo in the 73rd  minute. He is the superior striker and got yellow carded 10 minutes later.

Luis Argudo (Inc.): Came into the match in the 78th minute in place of Morgan as part of a triple substitution by coach Diego Alonso.

Lee Nguyen (Inc.): Nguyen is trying to regain his 2014 form and was dynamic during his 20 minutes of action in place of Pellegrini in the 78th minute. Don´t be surprised if he is more of a factor in the next two matches.

Jay Chapman (Inc.): Came in for Trapp. Almost made it 2-1 Inter Miami in the 88th minute with a header that just missed.

     

 

 

 

How Major League Soccer will Return

Major League Soccer will return with all 26 teams set to arrive in Orlando starting June 24. The “MLS is Back Tournament” will take place between July 8-August 11. Yesterday morning, the league announced all rules and new COVID-19 regulations for the tournament, which will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort in Florida. The return is just a few weeks away.

The Group Stage (July 8 – July 23)

In a World Cup style format, teams are to to be placed amongst six different randomly drawn groups. The Western and Eastern Conference will have 3 groups each, but different layouts when it comes to how many teams will be placed in each. Group A will feature Orlando City SC along with five other teams from the Eastern Conference. However, Groups C and E will feature four clubs each from the East. Atlanta United and Toronto FC will split into the remaining of the two Eastern groups. On the Western side, groups B, D, and F, will all have four teams each. LAFC, Seattle Sounders, and Real Salt Lake will be placed in separately in these groups.

In a traditional style group stage in any tournament around the world, each team has a chance to play against all the other teams in the group. With the league announcing there will only be three group stage matches, participants in Group A won’t be able to faceoff against the entire group. To aid the grouping and numbers, Nashville SC will temporarily play as an Eastern Conference team. All three group stage matches will count towards the 2020 regular season. The draw for the groups will happen this afternoon at 3:30 EST.

The Knockout Tournament (July 25 – August 11)

After the group stage, set to end on July 23, the top two teams from each group, and the four best third place teams will be seeded into a knockout tournament. There will only be one match in knockout play, with a tie game going directly into penalty kicks.

  • Round of 16 – July 25-28
  • Quarterfinals – July 30-August 1
  • Semifinals – August 5-6
  • Final – August 11

All times are TBA.

What to Play for

MLS announced after the new CBA deal was reached, that there is a $1.1 million prize pool. The tournament will allow the players to earn bonuses. It’s been rumored that there is also a trophy that will be lifted on August 11, but there’s one prize that makes this tournament serious.

Other than the fact that the three group stage matches will count towards the regular season, teams will be playing hard all tournament because of a 2021 CONCACAF Champions League spot that will be granted to the winner. Regardless if it’s an American or Canadian club, this one time berth into the CCL will be replacing the spot that is usually awarded to the top team in the conference that doesn’t have the winners of the Supporters Shield.

Inter Miami CF was cleared to return to full team training earlier this week. Fans will hope it’s enough time to put the club ahead of the rest, turn around the 2020 season, and qualify for the CCL in its inaugural year.

The league also announced that the 2020 regular season will take place shortly following the finale of the “MLS is Back Tournament.”

 

 

Inter Miami returning to training in Fort Lauderdale

The return of Inter Miami CF is closer than ever as the club announced this afternoon that they have received approval from Major League Soccer to begin full team training as early as this week.

 

The MLS debutants played only two matches to kick off their inaugural campaign and were on the heels of making their much-anticipated home debut versus the Los Angeles Galaxy prior to MLS, and the rest of the sports world shut down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

MLS lifted the team training moratorium on June 4 and Inter Miami was one of the first clubs to release their plans to return to training with a comprehensive explanation of procedures which highlighted all of the main points in helping both stop contamination and keeping athletes and staff members safe as they returned to training.

 

Before sending their plans to MLS, Inter Miami CF had to have its plans approved by the Club’s medical staff and local infectious disease experts.

 

According to MLS, “A strict schedule of COVID-19 testing will also be required, and full team training is mandatory after previously being in the phase for voluntary small group training.”

 

On May 6, players began to slowly return as part of the voluntary individual training sessions, but now the club has the green light to return to full team training at Inter Miami CF Training Center.

 

Inter Miami CF will now begin preparations for their return to the pitch as MLS has also agreed on a summer return in late-June with a Tournament in Orlando with three group games and a 16-team knockout round.

 

Five names who could land with Inter Miami

It’s fair to say that things haven’t quite gone to plan for David Beckham and co since Inter Miami made their first strides into the MLS. It’s currently two defeats from as many games with just one goal to their name and, on top of that, the expected star quality is yet to be truly sprinkled on the squad.

 

We’re sure the results will turnaround soon enough for Diego Alonso’s men but getting a noteworthy signing in might take a little longer. Here we look at five names who might be that arrival that Inter needs to surprise in the MLS table.

Number 5. Jurgen Damm​

Okay, so Damm is hardly the name would draw in viewers from Europe, but he’s well known this side of the pond for his impact with Tigres in Liga MX. He has a dozen Mexico caps to his name and can operate on either flank where he is a constant threat to his opponents thanks to his pace, which was once clocked at a rapid 35km per hour – enough to earn him the title as the world’s second fastest player.

 

He’s out of contract and only 27 so still has plenty to offer. It would still be a relatively decent statement signing given that several MLS clubs along with European sides Roma and Besiktas have had links made. The odds of this happening still remain long though with Beckham likely keen on a more global name. ​

Number 4. Daniel Sturridge​

Not that Beckham really needs much help to pitch Inter Miami as an attractive proposition but the fact that Sturridge grew up watching his compatriot on television is bound to give Miami an edge as DC United also line up talks with the former England international.

 

Despite a fine scoring record throughout his career, he now finds his livelihood in soccer hanging by a thread after betting breaches have seen him suspended from the game.

 

Injury problems have undoubtedly played their part in seeing him go from Premier League sharpshooter to an unattached rule breaker but at 30-years-old he’s hardly over the hill. A fit and focussed Sturridge would score goals for fun in the MLS.​ However, if Daniel does turn up in the US, at least he might want to shift his focus to BetAmerica.com baseball online betting to avoid being banned from soccer practice again.

Number 3. Edinson Cavani​

Now here is a name that would prick up the ears of global soccer fans. Cavani is leaving Ligue 1 giants PSG this summer with his contract up and he’s keen to find regular game time after only featuring in 600 minutes of league action this season. His output throughout his career has been nothing short of phenomenal with his spell at Napoli his most impressive in terms of goals to game ratio with a goal every 1.3 matches. Mind you, 200 in 301 in France isn’t half bad either! Some will point to his 33 years but, despite a few niggles in the 2019/20 campaign, Cavani is far from past it with several major European clubs – including Inter Milan – chasing him.

 

Beckham might need to pull out all the stops to convince Cavani to turn his back on Europe but the fact he’d be some five hours closer to his homeland of Uruguay – and a handsome pay packet – might be a good starting point.​

 

Number 2. Rogelio Funes Mori

On the surface of it, you might be forgiven for thinking that the concerns over whether or not Damm’s profile would be enough to tempt Beckham to bring a relative unknown (to European fans) in apply to Funes Mori too. Scratch a little deeper though and you’ll quickly see why he’d be willing to sacrifice a worldwide profile for one and, potentially, not the other.

 

Mori has been in Mexico, where he plays for Monterrey, since 2015 and has proven himself to be a deadly center forward. In 200 games he’s knocked in 101 goals and provided a further 27 assists for team. Monterrey will be desperate to keep him but a move for Mori might prove somewhat easier than luring someone of Cavani’s ilk. ​

Number 1. James Rodriguez​

This man would be an enormous coup for Inter Miami. Not only is James a talented ball player but he’s also in the prime years of his career at 28. James started out in his native Colombia, for whom he’s shined at international level, but quickly moved to Argentinian outfit Banfield. From there he’s gone to FC Porto – where he won the Europa League – Monaco, Real Madrid, a loan to Bayern Munich and back to Madrid for combined fees of $150m.

 

He’s now back with Real Madrid but establishing himself in their side looks hugely unlikely given he’s only managed 124 appearances since signing in 2014. Given that an in-form James will be one from the very top drawer, Miami will face serious competition from Europe with Real’s rivals Atletico and English trio Everton, Newcastle and – less realistically – Manchester United all mentioned as possible destinations.

 

Even so, if Beckham can pull out all the stops then James could dominate the MLS and make Miami a genuine force to be reckoned with.​

There you have it, five names who could be pulling on the Inter Miami strip in the coming months. Who would you most like to see come to Florida? ​

 

MLS to Restart after New CBA Reached

After reaching a deal on a new CBA in February, MLS and the MLSPA due to the global pandemic were forced to make revisions as circumstances changed drastically. An original deadline to reach the agreement was mid-day Tuesday, but luckily was postponed another 24 hours. With a lockout looming, MLS players and owners were forced to reach a deal that included the reduction of player income, and a plan to restart the season.

Money Cuts

Negotiations between the Player’s Association and owners about salaries started and ended in drastically different places. It has been reported that owners were originally looking to have player salaries cut by 50%. It was later talked down to 8.75%, then an agreed 7.5%, but continued to drop. Sources state that the new deal reached yesterday morning have only reduced player salaries by 5%.

Players also took a reduction on their cut of the new broadcast deal set to begin in 2023. Originally, players were set to take 25% in 2023, but instead that percentage will be cut in half. However, in 2024 and 2025, the revenue share will return back from the 12.5% to 25%. Team and bonus funds have also been reduced to a $5 million pool. $1 million of those funds will be allocated towards the upcoming Orlando Tournament as prize winnings.

The Disney Cup

Returning to play was extremely important in this new deal. A lockout during a time like this would be devastating for the league financially. With the plan to start a summer tournament in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, a product will be put back on the pitch, something MLS fans haven’t witnessed since March 12th.

The plan is to have teams arrive in Orlando in about three weeks, and begin play at the beginning of July. It is reported that each team will play a minimum of three games. Each side will have the results of these three games counted towards their 2020 regular season standings.

In what seems to be a World Cup style format, the first three games will determine what 16 teams will move on to a knockout tournament. One team will host a new trophy, and might even take the entire $1 million prize pool. It is unclear how the money will be dispersed.

What Does this Mean for Inter Miami?

With all of this time off players were given a rest period like no other. Inter Miami are set to benefit from this time off with Julian Carranza returning from injury. The club had posted pictures of him back in training on their social media accounts. The team’s goal scoring in the first two games was almost non-existent (only recording one goal), and Carranza could come into Orlando looking to fix that.

Inter Miami being a new team in the league were destined to face adversity in the beginning stages of their inaugural season. Recording zero points in two games is never ideal. But, with every MLS team essentially starting from square one, being an expansion team in a circumstance like this gives a level playing field. The first three games in Orlando will be extremely important so look for Inter Miami to capitalize and boost their 2020 record.

Inter Miami CF Sign Rodolfo Pizarro

For weeks there had been speculation surrounding Rodolfo Pizarro and his rumored move to Inter Miami. On Wednesday, C.F. Monterrey announced in a press release that Pizarro “unilaterally rescinds his contract with the club due to his wish to continue his sports career with the new MLS franchise in Miami.”

Although there is still no official word of the transfer fee, the number being thrown around is just shy of $12 million. The issues Inter ran into when going after Pizarro had mostly to do with the release clause and how much Paul McDonough was willing to spend. Monterrey was looking for a sum between $17 million and $20 million, but Miami was not spending that much. The Athletic reported that with the $12 million transfer fee, Inter Miami also gains 100% rights to Pizarro, meaning no sell-on clause. Miami had the option to trigger a fee around $10 million, but only retain 80% of Pizarro’s future transfer fee if he were to move on from MLS. Fans and media are still waiting on Inter Miami’s official announcement.

Rodolfo Pizarro – The Player

Pizarro will become Inter Miami’s second Designated Player, and are rumored to save the last spot for a European talent. At 25 years old, Pizarro is at a great spot in his career and has a lot to offer. On the ball, Pizarro is crafty, and loves shielding off defenders and plays low to the ground. His ability to retain possession going forward will offer the front line a lot of chances. Pizarro, when given a chance, also has the ability to score himself. Inside the box Pizarro knows how to find the back of the net.

Inter Miami head coach Diego Alonso is very familiar with Rodolfo Pizarro having coached him at Pachuca and Monterrey. Pizarro had become one of Liga MX’s top players under Alonso at such a young age, and he also became a regular with the Mexican National Team over the last couple years. His experience playing under Alonso and his talent will likely give him the starting role as Miami’s attacking midfielder. The signing could also allow Alonso to play his past desired formation, a 4-2-3-1, where the attacking midfield role is so critical.

Here is how Inter Miami CF could line up on March 1st

Head Coach: Diego Alonso

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Striker: Jerome Kiesewetter (Julian Carranza out 10-12 weeks with leg muscle injury.)

Left Winger: Matias Pellegrini

Attacking Midfielder: Rodolfo Pizarro

Right Winger: Lewis Morgan

Central Defensive Midfielders: Wil Trapp and Victor Ulloa

Left Back: Ben Sweat

Center Backs: Roman Torres and Nico Figal

Right Back: Alvas Powell

Goalkeeper: Luis Robles

You can check out the first ever Inter Miami Podcast, “The Black and Pink Show” over on Cinco Razones Deportes Network where the signing is discussed, as well as the starting XI. Included is also very insightful interview on Jerome Kiesewetter from his former club’s current podcast provider, Seriously Loco.

Inter Miami Target $15m Striker in Early MLS Show of Strength

The day of reckoning is closing in.

Very soon South Florida will finally have the MLS soccer side it has been craving.

There have been firm plans in place for a soccer team in Miami since early 2012 when MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed the league’s interest in placing an expansion franchise in the city. David Beckham coming on board certainly helped smooth the process and as recently as December a new manager has been selected for the team.

CNN reported that former Uruguayan international Diego Alonso will take charge for their opening fixtures, the first of which comes away against Los Angeles FC. Beckham’s former club LA Galaxy is the first opponents at the Lockhart Stadium on March 14th.

Miami’s name takes inspiration from that of Italian side Inter Milan. Their full title is Football Club Internazionale Milano, whereas Miami’s full title is Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, but the similarity between the names by which their known is recognizable. Like the major teams in Europe, Miami are now involved in transfer rumors and speculation.

With the squad already firmly in place, they are now looking to add a marquee signing to their ranks to help further boost their profile. They have already added two exciting young players via the first draft; with one, Robbie Robinson, having scored 24 goals in 47 appearances for Clemson Tigers. He represents real potential for the future of the U.S. National side.

Drafts are not something Europe is familiar with, but transfer speculation is, and this winter Inter Miami are involved in their fair share of chatter. Across in Europe, several major players are looking to move with Inter Milan keenly involved in a transfer tussle; bwin reported how the Italian giants are favorites to sign Danish star Christian Eriksen as they challenge for the title in Italy. The fee is thought to be around the €15m mark ($13m), the sort of fee that Miami are also being linked with spending.

They’re not likely to attract top European talent like Eriksen, yet, but it is suggested they might loan Celtic youngster Lewis Morgan. As well as that, they’re also being touted as a possible destination for Roger Martinez. MLS Soccer reports that he could be the subject of a $15m swoop ahead of the new season.

The 25-year-old is currently playing in Mexico with Club América where he’s hit 12 goals in 56 games, coming off the back of a loan spell in Spain with Villarreal. He’s a Colombian international too, having played 18 times for his country. He’s scored twice, once against Haiti but also getting the winner in a famous 1-0 victory against Argentina in this year’s Copa America.

There’s little doubt both targets are a real show of strength from Miami. Lewis Morgan is a hot prospect in Scotland and plays for arguably one of the biggest clubs in Europe in Celtic. If they could attract him, an exciting young prospect with international ambitions, it would send a signal to the rest of the MLS.

Not quite as much as a swoop for Martinez would. He’s a player that would undoubtedly be one of their key men and who could give them hope of some level of success in their inaugural MLS season.

Inter Miami Take Robbie Robinson, Dylan Nealis in MLS SuperDraft

Paul McDonough takes talent. Inter Miami’s Sporting Director has proven yet again that talent is most important when solidifying a roster. By taking Robbie Robinson first overall, McDonough made sure he got the top talent in the draft, and still walked out with a top defender in Dylan Nealis with the third overall pick.

Robbie Robinson is a 6’2 forward from Clemson University who dominated all year long. His 27 goal contributions (18 goals, 9 assists) in just 19 games led the country. Those numbers solidified Robinson as the top player in all of college soccer.

He was named the 2019 Hermann Trophy winner, the top prize in NCAA. Robinson led Clemson to an ACC Final appearance this year along with a Quarterfinal run in the NCAA Tournament. His quickness and will to get in behind defenders was a vital component to one of the best offenses in the country. But how will that style of play translate to MLS?

New head coach Diego Alonso is known for an attacking style of soccer. Alonso will likely use a 4-2-3-1 in which the front four are interchangable. Robinson at Clemson showed that he can be useful as a centre forward or on the wings. With Jerome Kiesewetter, Juan Agudelo, and Julian Carranza on the roster right now, it seems Carranza will carry the lone striker role. Both Agudelo and Kiesewetter have had roles in their past as wingers, but also as centre forwards, and Alonso could use this versatility in his tactics. With a versatile attacking mindset, Robbie Robinson will get his chance and Alonso’s style of play could suit him.

Nashville went on to take Jack Maher with the second pick and left Inter Miami with an easy decision. If it wasn’t going to be Maher, the next best defender in the draft was Dylan Nealis, a full back from Georgetown. Georgetown won the 2019 NCAA Championship under Nealis’ leadership and Nealis was named the top defensive player of the tournament. He had also won back to back Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards prior to being selected by Inter Miami. He will give the already signed right back, Alvas Powell, competition for starting minutes.

Inter Miami’s defensive names give the roster depth at the back line and this pick solidifies that. When an MLS defense runs thin due to injury or lack of talent, it is hard to compete in the league. With a lot of games to play this season, throughout the summer and US Open Cup matches, depth along the backline is important and McDonough turned that $150,000 in General Allocation Money into a great pick.

It is worth noting that both Nealis and Robinson are members of the 2020 Generational Adidas Class, and their salaries will not be put against the budget. This will help McDonough make a couple more non-Designated Player signings in order to use up the budget and add talent.

As the draft finished, McDonough was asked questions about the clubs last two DP slots. He was quoted saying, “The goal is to fill now… and be successful from Day 1. If you want to sign a DP in the summer, the impact he can have would be very minimal.”

“We’ve got an international winger that we’ve agreed, we’re doing personal terms with. We have a DP striker that we’ve agreed (a fee) with the club, trying to see if we can get personal terms done.”

That tells fans two things. David Silva in the summer is unlikely unless they miss on filling both DP slots, and that there’s more exciting news to come. Has this roster building process and the come up of the club felt a bit slow? Yes. Has it been underwhelming? Most certainly not.

The roster after the SuperDraft has been filled with more youth talent, and the amount of MLS veterans on the roster combined with the youth has great potential.

Inter Miami’s first ever game will be out in Los Angeles on March 1st against LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium. They will then head to D.C. before coming home for their first ever game against LA Galaxy on March 14th.

Voices

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.

LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION

New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.