Tag Archive for: soccer

A look at how the US is finally influencing soccer in England

As American sports fans, we have always been able to boast about having the world’s best players when it comes to football, baseball, and basketball. When it comes to soccer though, we’ve historically, had to be bystanders during conversations about the beautiful game. At least, the national team hasn’t left enough of a mark on the international stage for us to speak with any conviction about soccer. However, the days of quietly nodding along in the corner now seem to be numbered when you consider that there is an American soccer revolution currently taking place around the world courtesy of the personnel in the Premier League club Leeds United. 

Tellingly, this current Leeds side is heavily influenced by three Americans who are successfully leaving their mark on the globe’s toughest league and in doing so, proving to the world that the US can influence soccer at the highest level. They are, of course, Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, and coach Jesse Marsch. Crucially, both Aaronson and Adams are regular starters for the US men’s national team. In particular, Adams is the captain of the US team.

Undoubtedly, their on-field success is the driving reason behind why fans are beginning to take soccer in the US seriously as Leeds continues to pull off remarkable results with the help of their American stars as they did when they beat Chelsea and then Liverpool in late October, as covered by ESPN

Marsch carries the hopes of a generation 

Another reason for this growing wave of international respect is Wisconsin-born Marsch, who is the current manager in the hot seat at Elland Road. Now, it’s been well-documented that this is the single most crucial job that any American has had in the world’s most demanding soccer league. Marsch is striving to become the first manager born in the US to be considered a success in the Premier League. 

Predictably, we’ve had to witness a ceaseless inquest from the media in England who go out of their way to try to prove that the 49-year-old is out of his depth, with the influence of this being seen in the views on this BBC article. Unsurprisingly, is a narrative that does not go down well here in the States. Interestingly, this is why American fans have thrown their weight behind Leeds as the country’s reputation, as far as coaching soccer goes, is on the line. In other words, if Marsch is a success then doors will open to other prospective managers here in the US who have ambitions about coaching in England. 

 

As touched on, this is why more and more Americans have adopted Leeds as their team and as things stand, it’s also worth keeping in mind that many supporter groups have popped up over the last few months, such is the resolve to see the US finally breakthrough at the summit of the sport.

A nation united 

Perhaps most telling of all, however, was the recent forming of a supporters group in Ohio given that locals have never really given soccer in England a second glance until now. One of the reasons why this historical indifference could have now come to an end is that a big drawcard these days when it comes to sports in America that haven’t always been traditionally popular is betting, which is increasing in popularity after sweeping reform has spread across the country. 

With this in mind, it’s easier to see why Ohioans are now taking to soccer and following Leeds given that as of the 1st of January, locals will be able to use sports betting apps to bet on the Premier League which will undoubtedly stir up more interest in the important goings-on across the pond. To mark this historic occasion and the start of a new era, fans in the Buckeye State can access this BetMGM bonus code Ohio, which includes a $200 no-deposit free bet. In addition to that, this can be used on Premier League outright markets such as Leeds finishing in the top half. As soccer’s popularity continues to grow in the country, expect to see the range of markets grow for the Premier League and other top European leagues.

Only time will tell whether Leeds is able to achieve this or not but the one certainty is that they will have millions of fans in the US roaring them on.

Yes, this club which lies over 3000 miles from the east of the US is now a regular fixture in the lives of Americans who sense that a long overdue breakthrough is about to be made.

Everything You Need to Know About the World Cup

This year’s World Cup will be held in Qatar, and fans from all over the globe are already making their travel plans to witness the action firsthand. If you’re one of those fans or just curious about the fuss, here’s everything you need to know about the World Cup.

News

As with any sporting event, fans worldwide want to stay in the know with every piece of information related to the World Cup. The official website of FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup, is a great place to start. They provide comprehensive tournament coverage, from the qualifying rounds to the final.

 

In addition, several dedicated news websites and channels will provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the World Cup. Sky Sports, BBC Sport, and ESPN are just a few options fans can choose from. You can also get your FIFA World Cup News from The AllStar App. The AllStar app will give you all the latest news, scores, and highlights from the tournament to keep up with all the action. This way, you can be sure you won’t miss a beat. 

Weather

The weather in Qatar can be scorching, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months. However, the World Cup will be held in November when temperatures are a bit more bearable, averaging 27 degrees Celsius. The cooler weather relieves players and fans alike, as the heat can be too much to handle.

 

The World Cup organizers have ensured that the weather will not be a factor by installing air-conditioned stadiums and training facilities. In addition, they’ve also implemented a water break in each half to keep players hydrated.

Stadiums

The 2022 World Cup will take place in eight stadiums separated by an average distance of 43 miles. Out of the seven stadiums, eight have been built from scratch, with the Khalifa 

 

International Stadium being the only one that was pre-existing. However, all the attention will be on the Lusail Stadium, the flagship of the Qatari stadiums. It has a capacity of 80,000 and will host ten games, including the world cup final. In the opening stages of the world cup, all the attention will be on Al Bayt Stadium, built in 2021, as it will host the opening match.

Schedule

The 2022 World Cup will take place from November 20th to December 18th. The group stage will begin on November 21st, with the final on December 18th. A total of 64 games will be played, with each team playing three group stage games. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, where they will compete in a single-elimination tournament until only two teams remain. These two teams will face off in the final, with the winner crowned World Champion.

Teams

A total of 32 teams will compete in the 2022 World Cup. The host country, Qatar, will automatically qualify for the tournament, as will France’s defending champions. The remaining 30 teams will have to go through a qualifying process to earn their tournament spot.

 

The qualified teams will be placed into eight groups of four, each playing the other once. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage. The 2022 World Cup will feature some of the best teams in the world, including Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Argentina.

Live Streams and Highlights

If you can’t make it to Qatar for the World Cup, don’t worry—you can still catch all the action from home. Numerous broadcasters will provide live coverage of the tournament, so you can watch your favorite teams battle it on the pitch.

 

In addition to live coverage, most broadcasters will also offer highlights packages after each match. This way, you can catch up on all the action, even if you missed the live broadcast.

To find out which broadcaster is showing games in your country, check out this list from FIFA.

Players

 

The World Cup is the ultimate battleground for some of the best footballers in the world. A total of 736 players will compete in the tournament, with each team allowed to have a squad of 23.

Some of the best players in the world will be on display at the World Cup, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe. These players are sure to put on a show and entertain fans from all over the world.

 

We have also seen some break-out stars rise to the scene, including James Rodriguez in 2014 and Benjamin Pavard in 2018. This year’s competition will not be any different. New stars will be born, and history will be made.

 

The 2022 FIFA World Cup will surely be a spectacle that no football fan will want to miss. With so much on offer, it’s sure to be a tournament that will go down in history. If you’re looking for a way to stay up-to-date with all the latest news, information, and highlights, be sure to download The AllStar app.

Inter Miami CF

Three Takeaways From Inter Miami’s Cross Country Road Trip

Montreal, Canada – Inter Miami cap off a cross-country road trip with a win against the San Jose Earthquakes and a draw vs CF Montreal.

In what was a critical stretch of matches for Miami’s playoff hopes, the Herons managed to pick up a solid amount of points to keep themselves in the hunt:

With a massive home match against NYCFC this weekend, Neville and his men got the job done on the road when they needed points the most.

Here are three takeaways from Inter Miami’s cross-country road trip.

Back Three Here To Stay?

If Inter Miami want to maximize all the attacking talent they have, the back three may be here to stay:

So far, this formational switch has allowed Neville to play Pozuelo, Higuain, Duke, Taylor, and Campana all together without dropping either of them:

Against Montreal, Pozuelo and Duke were the two attacking midfielders behind Gonzalo Higuain who was playing up top. This allowed two creative players to be on the pitch together, while Higuain can focus on being the focal point of the Miami attack.

This trio, specifically, combined in the early stages of the game to put the Herons ahead. Some nice skill by Duke started the chain reaction which ultimately led Higuain to get his eighth goal of the season.

With Neville looking to expand Miami’s attack a bit more, the back three will probably be the formation the Herons use going forward. It provides width for the wingers, defensive cover, and positional freedom for players like Pozuelo and Duke.

It’ll be interesting to see if the formation holds up for the rest of the season, or if Neville reverts back to a 4-3-3.

Pozuelo’s Impact

Speaking of the back three, the biggest takeaway from that formation could be the budding on-the-field relationship between Pozuelo and his fellow teammates.

Since being acquired by the South Florida club, the Spaniard has been lights out for the boys in pink.

Since its inception, Inter Miami has struggled to find a consistent creative player in the middle of the park. There was the Rodolfo Pizarro experiment, then Federico Higuain came along and did his best, but Pozuelo has been the player that the club has needed since 2020:

Not only does the 30-year-old make Miami better as a team, but he’s also a big influence on the younger generation as well:

Bryce Duke Is Very Good

Lastly, Bryce Duke is developing into an outstanding player for Inter Miami:

Not only did he show off some skills vs San Jose, but he also won Man of The Match for his performance against Montreal:

The future is bright for the young 21-year-old.

Inter Miami CF

Three Takeaways From Inter Miami’s Insane Draw vs FC Cincinnati

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:

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.

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:

Higuain In-Form

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.

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.

Inter Miami CF

Three Takeaways From Inter Miami’s Loss VS NYCFC

The Bronx, New York – The injury bug has hit Inter Miami as they lose 2-0 to a well-drilled New York City FC side.

What was Taty Castellanos’ last game in NYC blue, Miami attempted to spoil the party to keep themselves in the playoff hunt; unfortunately, without the services of Leonardo Campana, Damion Lowe, Bryce Duke, and Ariel Lassiter, the Herons were largely flightless against one of the best attacks in the league.

This loss wasn’t necessarily a death blow- but, with only 13 games left in the season, Miami’s chances to rack up valuable points continue to slip.

Here are three takeaways from IMCF’s loss against NYCFC.

McVey Is A Center back

Christopher McVey is Inter Miami’s utility man. The Swedish-American has played every minute of Miami’s 2022 campaign. Against NYCFC, he was deployed in a slightly different role. With Damion Lowe out due to yellow card accumulation, the 25-year-old slotted in as the right-sided center-back.

For the most part, he did quite well.

McVey completed 94% of his passes, 50% of his long balls, and ended the game with 10 recoveries and four interceptions.

He was alert and tactically aware of most of the danger on the field. For example, on what would’ve been Castellanos’ farewell goal, McVey smartly stepped up at the last second to spring an offside trap:

All in all, despite the loss, McVey put on a good showing.

Question is, will he continue in the same position once Lowe returns? Or will he line up at left back once it’s all said and done?

High Press or No?

If there’s anything to take away from this game, it’s that Miami should think about implementing a high press. Inter Miami is at bottom of the league when it comes to possession won in the opponent’s final third:

In MLS where the technical level isn’t as sharp compared to other leagues, high pressing can be a valuable asset. Under Phil Neville, the Herons have largely been a team that sits back in a midblock, keeps their shape, and tries to cut off passing lanes.

Against NYCFC, Miami’s lack of team pressing led to opportunities for the Pigeons to take their time and pick a pass. Take this instance in the clip below. Instead of pushing up and pressing the ball carrier, Miami’s defensive lines – inexplicably – stand there ball watching.

That allows NYCFC to move the ball without any pressure and eventually manage to get a cross and touches inside IMCF’s 18-yard-box:

Luckily, there wasn’t a goal scored, but on any given Saturday against a sharper team, these actions would’ve been punished.

Miami has gotten good results by playing in a midblock. However, if they want to make the playoffs – comfortably, they’re going to need to start taking some risks.

Maybe it starts with a defensive change?

Too Slow To Switch Tactics?

As Robert Taylor and Indiana Vassilev struggled to get going, could Neville have swapped their positions?

With NYCFC’s field being small and narrow, instead of playing long balls over the top, perhaps the two wingers could’ve tried swapping flanks so they can cut inside with their dominant foot.

Both Kieran Gibbs and DeAndre Yedlin were keen and willing to make overlapping runs. Having Taylor and Vassilev cut inside would’ve not only given the fullbacks much more space but also provide them the opportunity to combine with the midfield as well.

Had this switch happened, Miami could’ve gotten more numbers through the middle with outlets on the flanks via the fullbacks, almost like a front attacking five:

To conclude, Miami needs to take some risks if they want to make the playoffs. Playing it safe with a handful of games to go won’t be good enough. This weekend, they have a massive game against Eastern Conference rivals FC Cincinnati. Anything less than three points will be bad news for the Herons.

As the season begins to wind down, it’s officially do-or-die time for the boys in black and pink.

Inter Miami CF

Opinion: Completely Overanalyzing Inter Miami’s Loss To FC Barcelona

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Inter Miami played FC Barcelona in what was supposed to be a celebratory event.

Miami’s 6-0 loss to Barca’ should’ve been understandable. Barcelona is a world-class side with world-class players, and for the majority of the game, the Herons looked overmatched.

The crowd was rocking, the stadium was full, and for the most part, the event went well. But, after the final whistle, it got a bit ugly.

From tweets calling the organization, “a joke” to very prominent soccer writers getting their obligatory quippy jabs in, the borderline vitriolic social media backlash to what was meaningless friendly is bizarre.

Based on Phil Neville’s post-game comments, it seems like the Englishman took the result well, despite his pregame comments, and saw it as a lesson for him and the group:

That begs the question, why has this game been blown out of proportion?

Much Ado About Nothing?

Inter Miami has had its sins – plenty of them, but in the last year and a half, they’ve started the process of atonement. They’re currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and have even taken on a new ethos:

Miami’s start to MLS life was tough. They fell short of the self-imposed expectations and came out of the starting block stumbling.

The media is very unforgiving, especially in football circles. The club’s poor first two years of existence will be held over their head by a plethora of national and local soccer writers. Any minor screw-up or abnormally bad result will be scrutinized, dissected, and heavily torn apart more so than the average team; being a David Beckham-owned club, it comes with the territory. Fair enough.

But, this friendly against Barcelona shouldn’t be one of those occasions.

At the end of the day, the match should’ve been taken for what it really was: A savvy business decision by Inter Miami and a great opportunity to get some reps against one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Plus, they’re not the only MLS club hosting mid-season friendlies against tough European opponents.

Is it as big as hosting a US Open Cup Final or MLS Cup Final? No way! Was this the biggest game in club history? When it comes to the quality of the opponent on the pitch – certainly! Both things can be true!

In the end, winning silverware is Miami’s main goal. They’ll get there – eventually.  But, in the meantime, playing a mid-season friendly isn’t a death sentence. An exhibition match was just that, an exhibition. It gave the club good exposure and some younger players a useful experience.

The team will now shift their focus to NYCFC this Saturday with the hopes of climbing further up the Eastern conference table. By then, all the hubbub surrounding this match will die down, and the think pieces on Twitter will cease. There will be other mid-season friendlies for people to watch, and the MLS season will roll on.

Inter Miami CF

Three Observations From Inter Miami’s Wild Win Vs Charlotte FC

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Despite a rain delay preventing the start of the game in a timely manner, Inter Miami showed that they “have that dog in em'” by coming from behind to beat budding rivals Charlotte FC in a 3-2 victory.

It was a tale of two halves for Phil Neville’s men.

In the first forty-five, the Herons looked predictable. They allowed Charlotte to get on the scoresheet early courtesy of two Yordy Reyna goals – one of which is nominated for MLS Goal of The Week.

The second forty-five, however, was a different story.

Neville made the correct substitutions and tactical tweaks to get the best out of his players. In the end, his decisions paid off.

Here are three observations from Miami’s colossal comeback win vs Charlotte FC.

Pozuelo Brings Flexibility

Alejandro Pozuelo was everything Inter Miami needed and more. The Spaniard only had a few training sessions under his belt, but his impact was immediate.

Lining up in central midfield along Gregore and Jean Mota initially, the 30-year-old made the best of what was a poor first half for Miami.

Pozuelo was doing exactly what enganche‘s in this league do – find and manipulate space; unfortunately, his teammates couldn’t quite find the connection.

Of course, there were some moments of technical brilliance from ‘Poz’ where Miami could’ve scored, but, there was a lack of ruthless finishing in the final third.

Looking at their first half passing map told the whole story: There wasn’t enough space in the middle for him to seamlessly connect with his teammates to have a proper impact:

That all changed in the second forty-five. Neville brought on Bryce Duke and Gonzalo Higuain to give Miami more control down the middle, then he instructed Pozuelo to push out wide.

This saw some cheeky combination play between the young American and the Spaniard. They interchanged effortlessly, with Duke sometimes going on the left, and Pozuleo tucking inside. The constant movement eventually was too much for Charlotte; after some good pressing by the Herons, Duke was able to play a nicely threaded through ball to Emerson Rodriguez to see the game out:

It was only Pozuelo’s first game in pink and black, but – if the result means anything – it’s certainly a sign of things to come.

Center back Merry-Go-Round?

With Damion Lowe picking up a yellow for a nasty foul in the 12th minute, the Jamaica international will miss Miami’s upcoming match against NYCFC.

The biggest question heading into the weekend is who will start in his place.

All signs point to Christopher McVey. McVey has played every minute of Inter Miami’s 2022 campaign and he’s the most natural fit to slot over in Lowe’s absence.

His center-back partner? Well, that’s a tad more difficult. Neville has the option of starting either Ryan Sailor or Aime Mabika – both equally impressive young players.

Looking at their stats below could provide a clearer picture.

Both players are excellent at blocking and clearing the ball – though Sailor has a slight edge on the latter. Mabika has a better pass completion percentage, while Sailor is better at winning aerial headers.

NYCFC away will be a difficult game. In the end, Neville will probably choose the player who is better equipped to play in such a demanding environment like Yankee Stadium – especially if this guy sticks around for one last game.

Higuain The Super Sub?

Last but surely not least, Gonzalo Higuain may have found a role that suits him on this team: A super sub.

The 34-year-old may not have the legs to start a full 90, but his football brain has never left him. The run he made to score Miami’s equalizer was vintage Pipita. 

The pass from Gregore was even better.
Higuain has scored two goals in Miami’s last two matches – both off the bench.  Could this be the role the former Argentina international gets comfortable in?
That’s up to Phil Neville at the end of the day, but, it’s definitely a role that gets people’s heads turning.
Inter Miami CF

How Will Inter Miami Line Up With Alejandro Pozuelo?

Inter Miami has made some noise in the summer transfer window.

According to various reports, 30-year-old attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo will be heading to South Florida in a trade from Toronto FC for $150,000 in allocation money.

What comes as a massive addition to the squad at a critical moment in the playoff race, Inter Miami will have an MVP-caliber player at their disposal. Not only does Pozuelo bring MLS experience, but he also is the progressive passer that Miami’s midfield has been searching for since the club’s inception.

With a potential midfield partnership alongside Jean Mota and Gregore, suddenly, Miami’s playoff hopes are looking a little more likely.

Let’s see how the Herons will line up with the Spaniard.

How Will He Fit In?

Phil Neville lines up Inter Miami in a traditional 4-3-3. While this system normally doesn’t require an out and out number ’10,’ with Inter Miami, at least one central midfielder pushes up into the forward line to work in the half spaces:

Bryce Duke has been the go-to player for Neville in this position. The 21-year-old has steadily shown his quality and playmaking ability as Miami’s main creative presence through the middle.

When Pozuelo dons the pink and black, he will – presumably, take the place of Duke in the midfield three. Playing just in front of the more defensive duo of Mota and Gregore, the Spaniard will have the freedom to roam and combine with the front three of Miami’s attacking trident.

According to FBref, Pozuelo is in the 94th percentile of progressive passes per 90 with 7.05 and also in the 95th percentile of passes into the final third with 5.38.

With players like Ariel Lassiter, Robert Taylor, Indiana Vassilev, and Emerson Rodriguez on the wings, Pozuelo’s slick passing and ball retention will be key to Miami’s offensively expansive, yet defensively disciplined style.

Being able to hit players running the channels on the touchline with his vision and ball skills, will give the South Florida club even more potency on counters:

This season, Miami has oftentimes relinquished the ball in favor of defensive compactness. Though Neville has spoken about wanting to keep more possession, they haven’t quite found a way to be able to do that consistently.

Pozuelo is adept at controlling the rhythm of the game and will look to retain possession instead of forcing a pass or shot that may not be on:
Inter Miami has scored the third least goals in all of MLS. For a team looking to kick that habit, there couldn’t have been a better player to bring into the club than Alejandro Pozuelo. He’s a no-risk, high-reward signing, and gives Miami some much-needed offensive firepower as they sit on the playoff bubble.

Bravo, Chris Henderson.

Inter Miami CF

The Three Biggest Storylines Of Inter Miami’s Season So Far.

Inter Miami is in the playoff hunt.

With a rocky start to the 2022 campaign, many believed that the South Florida club would be wooden spoon material. However, Phil Neville and his squad took that to heart and used the doubt as motivation. Now, they find themselves only a point away from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

As The Herons head into the halfway point of the season, they’ll look to continue this good run of form in the hopes of making the playoffs.

All that said, let’s look back at some of the season’s biggest storylines of Inter Miami’s season so far.

Higuain’s New Role and the Rise of Campana

Gonzalo Higuain was brought to Inter Miami in the fall of 2020 with high expectations. Coming from a club like Juventus, the Argentinian arrived in South Florida to be the face of the club. For a period of time, he was.

In his first season with The Herons, the then 32-year-old only scored one goal and had two assists in his first nine matches for the team.  Though he underperformed, his physical presence in and around the club made Inter Miami a major talking point for the media both domestically and internationally.

After taking an offseason to get adjusted to the physicality of the league, the former Argentina international exploded in 2021. He carried the team with 12 goals and seven assists on the season.

Fast forward to 2022 and the hope that he could top his 2021 form has come to a halt.

Injuries have hampered the 34-year-old and he’s been relegated to the bench, getting sporadic starts as he returns to full fitness.

In his place has been Ecuadorian international Leonardo Campana.

Since being penciled into the lineup, the 21-year-old has been lights out.

His seven goals in all competitions have been a breath of fresh air in a position that The Herons have struggled with in 2022. The Ecuadorian’s stature, work rate, and silky first touch have been key to Inter Miami’s turnaround. His chemistry with his teammates and ability to play off them seamlessly has given Miami’s attack much more fluidity in the final third.

As the 2023 season begins to creep up, the big question will be: will IMCF be able to keep Campana?

Reading the fine print, there is an option to purchase the 21-year-old at the end of the season.

Surely, Inter Miami’s Sporting Director Chris Henderson will have a firm eye on this.

Drake Callender, GK1?

Drake Callendar has a rough start to 2022. After a few blunders in pre-season that subsequently saw him fall out of favor, the California native rebounded better than ever.

Since taking the spot between the sticks for Miami’s US Open Cup match against Miami FC, Callendar has been a force to be reckoned with.

His 33.3% clean sheet percentage puts him in the 80th percentile of all MLS goalkeepers. For perspective, he’s only three percent below highly touted wonder kid Gabriel Slonina.

As the team gets deeper into the season, having Callendar continue this run of form will huge if The Herons want to push for the playoffs.

The Emergence of Bryce Duke

Though Miami is a town where glitz and glamor reign, David Beckham and Chris Henderson wanted one non-negotiable as the South Florida club went into rebuilding mode: trust the youth.

There’s no other player that exemplifies this new mindset better than Bryce Duke.

Duke’s emergence as one of the key figures in Miami’s midfield comes as no surprise if you watch his game. He’s smart, offensive-minded, and has the stamina to press when needed.

The 21-year-old’s 4.21 shot-creating actions per 90 put him in the 83rd percentile of attacking midfielders in MLS. His progressive passes are even better as he racks up 5.77 a game which, once again, puts his numbers amongst the upper echelon of ‘number 10’s’ within the league.

His tenacity and desire to get forward is one of the reasons Miami’s offense has more bite. Check out this nicely timed through ball to Ariel Lassiter that nearly ends up as another Campana goal:

As Inter Miami continues to get younger as the 2023 season gets closer, expect Duke to be a central player as the club moves forward.

The season is still young, but there were plenty of intriguing headlines to takeaway in the first 15 weeks of the season.

Inter Miami CF

Player Ratings: Inter Miami vs the Portland Timbers

Inter Miami get themselves above the playoff line with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers. After starting the season on the wrong foot and receiving tons of criticism, Phil Neville and the Herons have started to hit their stride at the right moment.

Miami is 5W-2L-2D in their last nine games. This latest win against Portland shows that the South Florida club has been progressing well as the season plays on.

The Herons have a budding identity and a group of players that work well together – something the team hasn’t had in their entire history:

Here are the player ratings from Inter Miami’s win vs the Portland Timbers.

*Anything under a six is below average/poor. A six is average and or good. A seven through ten is great and or excellent.*

Goalkeeping

Drake Callender – 7.3: Had another solid game between the sticks. Was confident, vocal, and had a great command of his box. Making the case to stay on as Miami’s starting goalkeeper.

Defense

Chris McVey – 8.3: Had his best game in an Inter Miami shirt. Was lively down the left side and got the game opening assist. Being right-footed allows Miami to open up other passing angles that normally wouldn’t be possible with a left-footed left-back. He was defensively solid and kept Dairon Asprilla at bay all game.

Ryan Sailor – 7.3: Improving with each match that he starts. There were moments of shakiness at the beginning, but Sailor is a rookie and that’s understandable. He did well to grow into the game and looked comfortable once he found his footing. Ended the match with an impressive 93% pass completion percentage and seven clearances.

Damion Lowe – 7.5: Another solid performance from the Jamaica international. Was first to every ball, and aggressive in winning every 50/50. Criminally underrated by the national media, but, his work doesn’t go unnoticed.

DeAndre Yedlin – 7: Consistent, again. Used his recovery speed well against a tricky Portland front three. Got a little tired at the end but did well to hang on.

Midfield

Bryce Duke – 6.7: Didn’t quite have the same impact that he normally would. Looked a little fatigued, but still got the hockey assist on Miami’s first goal. Showed great vision all night and was unlucky to get a yellow card that saw him pulled from the game early.

Gregore – 7.9: Once again, he was the metronome for Miami’s midfield. Paired up nicely with Mota as the team’s double pivot. Was defensively sound and drove the team forward when possible. Ended the game with five recoveries and 70 touches.

Jean Mota – 8: An absolute engine for Inter Miami. With each game, the 28-year-old is showing just how important he is for Miami’s attack. Alongside Gregore, Mota was very good against a solid Timber midfield. His passing ability and vision dictated the tempo. Ended the match completing 67% of his long balls and 90% of his passes.

Attack

Robbie Robinson – 6.3: Looked a little lost on that right-hand side. Tried his best to get going but couldn’t quite find his rhythm. Had a couple of good moments in the final third but didn’t quite connect. This two-week international break will do the 23-year-old a world of good.

Leonardo Campana – 8: Got his seventh goal of the season. Was physically imposing vs the Timber defense and his movement inside the final third was excellent all game. His linkup play was immense. Had several moments in the game where he switched the point of attack seamlessly. The perfect number nine for Neville’s expansive 4-3-3.

Ariel Lassiter – 8.1: Was a thorn on the left side of Portland’s defense. His speed and willingness to take on his defender one. v one was a big reason why Miami was able to hit the Timbers on the counter. Starting to develop very good chemistry with McVey on the left flank.

Subs

Indiana Vassilev – 6.7: Did a solid job on the left side after Robinson came off injured. Had some good moments cutting in on his left foot and did a great job tracking back on defense.

Robert Taylor – 8: Had a phenomenal impact off the bench. Slotted into the midfield well, and got the game-sealing goal.

Gonzalo Higuain – 6.3: Came on and had some decent hold-up play. However, there was a moment where he was dispossessed in a bad spot that led to a Portland counter where they nearly scored. A player of his caliber has to do better in those situations – especially when three points were on the line.

Aime Mabika – 6.5: Had a couple of good clearances near the end of the match. His imposing stature made it a nightmare for Portland’s attackers to get crosses into the box.

Victor Ulloa – 6.5: Did well to clog up the middle where Portland was most dangerous, especially in the second half.

Coaching

Phil Neville – 7.5: Another well-coached game from Neville. The players are beginning to understand his philosophy and they execute it well. The 4-3-3 the Herons play suit the personnel at his disposal and he has made the most of it. Got the club inside the playoff line just as the season gets to the halfway mark; very impressive considering how the team started the season.