News

Inter Miami CF Acquire Patrick Seagrist

Inter Miami CF have traded for former New York Red Bulls left-back Patrick Seagrist.

Seagrist, a 22-year-old left-footed defender, makes his way to South Florida through trade, as Inter Miami has agreed to send a 3rd round 2021 MLS SuperDraft pick to New York. Depending on performance, Miami could also send over $50,000 in General Allocation Money.

He was drafted 1oth overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft by the Red Bulls, which now means Inter Miami roster three top-ten picks from last year’s draft (Robbie Robinson 1st overall, Dylan Nealis 3rd overall).

As a rookie, Seagrist made just three appearances for the Red Bulls. Two of those came in the season’s first two matches in March, but after quarantine and before the MLS is Back Tournament, he lost the starting role and didn’t see the field again until August. With that said, there isn’t much Seagrist footage to look at in MLS, but his time at Marquette University shows more than enough to prove why he was a highly-touted prospect.

Seagrist was named to the All-BIG EAST First teams in both 2018 and 2019. In his senior year, 2019, Seagrist led the BIG EAST in assists as a left-back and was only one of two players for the Golden Eagles to start in every game. Needless to say, he was a very influential player on the collegiate level, just like his new teammate and defender Dylan Nealis was for Georgetown.

After Inter Miami traded away Ben Sweat to Austin FC for $100k in GAM, it was known the club would be in the market for a left-back. Not only did Miami lose Ben Sweat, but it was recently announced that Mikey Ambrose too would be leaving the club as he signed a contract with Atlanta United. Both Sweat and Ambrose, other than maybe Shea, were the only two players to play left-back in the 2020 season.

The Fit

Seagrist is a true, left-footed left-back who shows brilliant soccer IQ at a young age. His college tape shows a player who loves to get forward and provide service all across the pitch. A lot of what he does going forward relies on his left foot; whether it’d be an over the top pass or cross, it was mostly on the left foot from the left side, and this would be a perfect parallel to Lewis Morgan’s services on the right. He showed innate ability to find runs from attackers in any pocket of space or across the field, thus leading to why he was the top assist man in his conference.

His soccer IQ also helps his side when going forward, and this doesn’t solely pertain to what he does on the ball. At Marquette, Seagrist was in a system where it was in the instruction that he make overlapping runs and dart forward to help out on the wings. Inter Miami saw a lot of this in Ben Sweat’s better performances on the season, and Seagrist can mimic that.

As a defender, Seagrist has to become a little more polished. He stands at 6ft tall but is quite skinny, weighing in at about 170lbs (data from Marquette’s website). The physicality in MLS could stand to be a problem for Seagrist. His ability to read the game and position himself well does provide an advantage when it comes to interceptions and closing down space. The main worry here is in 1 on 1 scenarios if he’s beaten off the ball. Although Seagrist does have a bit of pace for running up and down the pitch, getting beaten by MLS veterans and or other physical, rapid wingers is a lot to try and recover from.

One positive in his defending, however, is his ability to win and redirect headers. Standing 6ft tall, Seagrist can use his height and decent jumping ability to his advantage by winning headers from long balls or clearances from the opposition. He did so on the collegiate level.

At 22, there’s no need to rush to have him as a starter. His situation is a lot like Dylan Nealis’, except Nealis NEEDED to play after Powell proved he wasn’t the guy. Both Nealis and Seagrist as defenders are about on the same level, but the newly acquired left-back has much more upside in attacking play.

Trade Grade: B+

Seagrist, depending on who Inter Miami can bring in, likely won’t be a full-time starter, but look for him to make some appearances in the side, especially if Alonso uses wing-backs from time to time this year. That role probably suits him best.

But a low risk, high upside trade for the Herons is a good way to start their offseason heading into 2021. After the departure of their only two left-backs, to bring in a younger one whos a true left-footed player with a ton of potential is a quality transaction.

Three U.S. Soccer Players Excelling Overseas

Association football – soccer – is not the most popular sport in the United States. Actually, it’s the least popular among the top 5 sports in the country – gridiron football (aka football), baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. Even with its sharp increase in viewership – due in part to the influx of major international soccer stars like Englishman Wayne Rooney who recently ended his tenure with DC United and David Beckham, who strengthened the ranks of LA Galaxy for five seasons before returning to Europe and ultimately retiring in 2013. 

There are approximately 250 million soccer players in the world, with more than 100,000 of them playing professionally. Standing out from this crowd is about as easy as hitting a jackpot at the JackpotCity online casino. Maybe harder, actually: the odds of hitting the jackpot at JackpotCity are about 1 in 50 million, and all you need to do is play the game. Becoming an outstanding player, in turn, requires a combination of talent, skill, hard work, perseverance, and luck – while talent scouts are continuously looking for great players, they are not perfect either. 

The US is not the greatest soccer nation in the world. Still, it’s a breeding ground for talented players – increasingly in the recent years. And there are quite a few great, outstanding players coming from the US making a name for themselves overseas.

 

Giovanni (Gio) Reyna

Born and raised in New York City, Gio Reyna joined the youth team of the local club New York City FC in 2015. During his time there, he was spotted by talent scouts from Europe, ultimately joining the ranks of the German club Borussia Dortmund last year.

 

Reyna made his first-team debut in Dortmund’s Bundesliga (Germany’s top-flight soccer league) last January, coming on as a substitute in a match against FC Augsburg. Since then, he became a regular, playing 22 league games and scoring one goal for the team. He was also called up repeatedly for the US national team, playing more than 30 games in the team’s youth matches, and twice (with one goal) for the senior team.

Reyna is excited about his future with Borussia Dortmund, saying that he’s ready for an even bigger role in the team going forward.

Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic is perhaps the most expensive American soccer player to date: English Premier League club Chelsea paid £58 million ($77 million today) in 2019 to have him, which made his transfer the third-most-expensive in the year.

Born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic tried his hand (or better said, feet) in soccer at the age of seven, when he lived a year in England. Later, he joined Michigan Rush while his family lived in Michigan, and after returning home, he joined the ranks of the “PA Classics” academy in 2008. During his teens, he trained with Penn FC before he was scouted by German club Borussia Dortmund in 2015. He joined Dortmund’s youth team, standing out through his skill (he scored 10 times and assisted 8 times in his first 15 U17 games). As a result, he joined the senior team in the winter of 2016, after turning 18.

After two seasons with Dortmund, Pulisic left for the misty Albion, joining English Premier League club Chelsea in the summer of 2019. His first goals in the Premier League – a hat-trick against Burnley – followed soon. 

Pulisic has played 34 games for the US National Team so far, scoring 14 times in the process.

 

Zack Steffen

A good goalkeeper is just as important for a soccer team as a forward or a defender – yet goalies are rarely in the spotlight. So, let’s correct this and take a look at the career of US goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

Steffen started playing football recreationally at the age of five, and started training professionally when starting high school. In the early 2010s, he played with the Philadelphia Union youth academy, and was ranked the #1 goalkeeper of his generation by TopDrawerSoccer.com. In college, he played two seasons with the Maryland Terrapins before being signed by German soccer club SC Freiburg in 2014.

He made his senior debut with Freiburg’s second team in 2015. A year later, he joined Columbus Crew SC for three seasons (and a loan spell at Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2016) before being signed by the Premier League club Manchester City last summer. His career in the Premier League was interrupted by a loan spell with German Bundesliga team Fortuna Düsseldorf, where sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel called him “the perfect example of a modern goalkeeper”. Steffen returned to Manchester City for the 2020-2021 Premier League season as a first-team goalie.

English Premier League: 5 Craziest Matches So Far In 2020/21 Season

At the time of writing, we are just approaching the quarter-way mark of the 38-game English Premier League season. And, we say this without exaggeration, it has already packed more drama and weirdness into the first nine rounds as any season in the past. From huge upsets to goals being awarded after the full-time whistle was blown, this campaign has been unlike any other. 

 Above all, though, there have been some bizarre results and performances over the autumn period, and we are going to look back at five of those below: 

Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

The biggest shock in English football history? Certainly, we can’t think of many upsets to match Aston Villa’s demolition of the champions (perhaps Southampton beating Manchester United 6-3 in during the 1996/97 season). Nevertheless, this was Villa’s day, with Ollie Watkins leading the charge with a hat-trick against the Reds. Liverpool conceded just 33 goals across the entire season in 2019/20, so to let in over a fifth of that tally in a single game was shocking, to say the least. All credit should go to Villa, though, who looked masterful when gaining their greatest result in many a year. 

Man City 2-5 Leicester

Man City still remain the betting favourites with 888 to win the Premier League this season. In truth, though, they haven’t looked like potential champions in most games, most notably when receiving a hiding from Leicester City. The main man was the evergreen Jamie Vardy, whose pace and guile tortured the City defence throughout the 90 minutes. Pep Guardiola, normally the coolest man on the sidelines, looked helpless. 

Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham

This was horrific if you were watching as a Manchester United fan. Normally when two big clubs clash, the games can be tentative, certainly in the beginning. Both teams flew out of the traps here though, with United going ahead after two minutes. That was as good as it got for United, though, as Tottenham had the lead five minutes later. United fans might point to Anthony Martial’s red card as an excuse, but that’s almost a moot point. Tottenham battered United before and after the sending off, and we could have been looking at double figures by the end. A great day for former United boss, Jose Mourinho; one to forget for current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Leicester 0-3 West Ham 

The week before Leicester City were giving Pep Guardiola nightmares, the team was on the receiving end of their own comprehensive defeat at the hands of West Ham. The Hammers were expected to flop this season, but manager David Moyes has got a tune out of a team that looks weak on paper. They were perfect here in thwarting much-fancied Leicester City. Moyes had been tipped as the first manager likely to be sacked, given West Ham’s tough fixture list. But the Scot has guided his team astutely, and earned the respect of fans in the process. 

Aston Villa 3-4 Southampton 

If any club is emblematic of the crazy Premier League season, it is Aston Villa. They have put Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal to the sword, but lost games 3-0 at home to Leeds and this one at the hands of Southampton. In truth, the 4-3 scoreline flatters Villa a bit because they were never really in the match. Saints were 4-0 up after an hour, and they took their foot off the gas after that. After the game, Southampton spent a brief period at the top of the Premier League. The club duly released “Stop the Count” t-shirts in a cheeky imitation of a certain US President’s call to stop votes being tallied in the election.  

Inter Miami

Inter Miami CF’s Playoff Chances

As it stands, Inter Miami CF currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining. After beating Orlando City Saturday and a Chicago Fire draw later that night, the Herons will go into their next match holding the conference’s final playoff spot.

Due to the shortened season, MLS decided to alter the playoffs and award four extra teams in the Eastern Conference and two extra teams in the Western Conference a playoff berth. So, instead of the normal six teams from years prior, ten Eastern Conference teams will compete in the MLS Playoffs. Inter Miami’s negative record of 6-3-11 (W-D-L) has given them a total of 21 points over 20 games. That is NOT a great record, but in a year like 2020, it’s still enough to end a week in a playoff position.

The 10th spot

Inter Miami is only in the 10th position due to a tiebreaker over Chicago. As Chicago (21 pts) only has 5 wins, and Inter Miami has 6, the Herons are above in the standings. One thing Miami lacks right now over Chicago is a game in hand. While Miami has played 20 total matches, Chicago has only played 19. As much as a fan would like for Inter Miami’s fate to be in the team’s own hands, they still need to hope for results around the league.

Both teams play away games Wednesday night against respectable opponents. Miami will travel to Texas as they take on FC Dallas, while Chicago will travel to Subaru Park to take on the Philadelphia Union. The Union right now are in a crazy run of form. They’ve only dropped points in one of their last five games, and beating Toronto FC Saturday by a score of 5-0 was more than enough to let Philadelphia overtake the Canadian side for first place in the East. FC Dallas, however, has only won one of their last seven games but is now in a very tight playoff race out West. They surely won’t be looking to drop any points at home; therefore, Inter will have to be on their game.

These games will prove to be critical at the season’s conclusion. Inter Miami nor Chicago will be favored in their matchups, but a betting man might tell you that Inter Miami holds the edge. If things work out in Inter Miami’s favor (a win for IMCF, a loss for CFFC), Chicago will still have a game in hand but will be down three points and two numbers in the win column, which would be massive for Inter going into the final two weeks.

Moving up?

Another game other than Chicago-Philadelphia that is important for Inter Miami is the Tuesday night matchup between Montreal and Nashville. Montreal (23 pts) currently sits in 9th place with a two-point lead over Inter Miami. Miami missed their first opportunity to overtake Montreal in the standings when they lost 2-1 to the Impact last week. Had Miami won, they’d feel a lot more comfortable with their playoff hopes. Depending on Tuesday’s result, Miami would have another chance to overtake Montreal in the standings. A loss or a tie for Montreal would put them on 24 points or 23 points, with a -9 or worse goal differential, and just seven wins. If Miami can capitalize on a Montreal loss or tie with a win over FC Dallas the next day, they’ll head into their following match sitting in the East’s 9th place.

Going much further than 9th to finish the season is A LOT to ask for. Though still possible, the teams ahead will have to do a lot of losing. Nashville SC sits in 8th with 25 points, New York Red Bulls are in 7th with 26 points, and beyond that, it is not really worth trying to come up with scenarios for.

The best outcome for Inter Miami maybe a tie in Tuesday’s match between Nashville and Montreal, but it’s probably in the team’s best interest to end up with a Nashville victory so they can overtake Montreal in the table solely on points.

Past the Midweek Games

If Inter Miami does win Wednesday and both Montreal and Chicago lose in their respective midweek matchups, the team’s fate will then mathematically lay in their own hands. Montreal would be down on points, and if Miami wins out, they cannot be caught by any other team from that point on. Winning is the key here, though. Remember, this is an expansion team whose only been able to draw up 6 wins over 20 games thus far. Not only that, but there’s only been one time the entire season where Inter Miami has won just TWO games in a row. While looking at the chances, it must be taken into account that the team is being asked to win their final three games in a row after winning the game prior.

Past the Dallas game, Miami plays Toronto FC away and then are home vs. FC Cincinnati to finish the season. For Montreal, other than Nashville, their last two opponents are Orlando City and D.C. United. And for Chicago, they’ll round out the season against Nashville, Minnesota, and NYCFC.

In these last couple of weeks, Inter Miami could really use all possible points. A tie in any remaining game would mean Montreal or Chicago would need to drop points in another game outside of the midweek games coming up. It’d be a lot to ask for.

If Miami could make it three wins from their last three and find a final run of form, they are likely in. If not, get ready for fans to cheer ever so hard against Montreal and Chicago.

Champions League betting: English teams pose threat to Bayern

The Champions League proper is set to begin in October and online betting sites have already released the outright odds for this season’s tournament.

 

Bayern Munich lifted the trophy in Lisbon after beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the final, and it is the Germans who start as co-favourites for the 2020-21 tournament.

 

Hansi Flick’s team are priced at 9/2 with most bookmakers to go back-to-back, and with Leroy Sane’s arrival strengthening their attacking options, they are likely to be just as difficult to beat in this campaign as they were during the last.

 

Manchester City, Sane’s former club, are also 9/2 even though they have never won the Champions League. Lyon knocked them out in a shock 3-1 result at the quarter-final stage, meaning that Pep Guardiola’s wait to win the European Cup at City goes on.

 

One English club that have had plenty of experience in lifting ‘Old Big Ears’ is Liverpool, who are 5/1 in places but 7/1 best price. The addition of Thiago Alcantara will be a huge boost, and confidence within the squad will be at an all-time high after they followed up their 2019 Champions League success with a maiden Premier League triumph this year.

 

Like Man City, Paris Saint-Germain are searching for their first Champions League and the Ligue 1 outfit are 9/1 with Paddy Power to finally go all the way. Having reached the final for the first time in 2020, many may be tempted by that price for them to go one better.

 

You can never keep Real Madrid away from Champions League finals for too long, so it is no surprise to see them at 9/1 with some betting sites, while they can be snapped up at a more generous 12/1 elsewhere. That price may change depending on what happens between now and the end of the transfer window. There have been plenty of departures from the Bernabeu, many of which will surely be replaced.

 

Barcelona, meanwhile, have already spent big on midfielder Miralem Pjanic from Juventus and the exciting Portuguese winger Trincao from Brago. But their biggest coup is being able to keep hold of Lionel Messi, who at one stage looked likely to be heading to Manchester City. The Catalan giants, five-time winners of the European Cup, are 16/1.

 

There are some 17/1 quotes available on Serie A champions Juventus, while Chelsea, who have bolstered their squad massively, are 22/1. Manchester United are also 22/1, but that may have something to do with their pedigree in the Champions League rather than their current squad.

 

It may be surprising to see Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and Borussia Dortmund as big as 33/1 with some bookies, and an even bigger long shot is Atalanta at 45/1. The Italian side were highly impressive with their attacking football last season as they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and finished third in Serie A.

 

Sevilla have an incredible record in European competitions, having won the Europa League six times this century, but the Champions League may be a step too far from them and 70/1 is probably fair.

Match Recap: Inter Miami CF vs. Orlando City SC

Inter Miami sealed their first-ever win over Orlando City Saturday night. Julian Carranza led the Herons with a brace as Miami sealed a 3-2 victory at Inter Miami CF Stadium.

The long-awaited first home match for Inter Miami did not disappoint. After a fabulous first 45 minutes of play, Miami saw out the victory on its home turf. Orlando was unable to snatch a point late in the game, and Miami came away with its first points of the 2020 MLS Regular Season.

First Half

In the 12th minute of play, Carranza had won a ball in midfield that fell to Rodolfo Pizarro. The Mexican International dribbled right at a defender with his striker alongside. Carranza received a perfectly weighted and timed pass from Pizarro as he overlapped him, and tucked the ball into the near post for a 1-0 lead.

Miami’s defense was beaten just 6 minutes later, as Orlando rookie Darryl Dike bodied Leandro Gonzalez Pirez to the ground, which led to a turn and a shot on target. Goalkeeper Luis Robles did well to make the first save, however, Andres Reyes or Ben Sweat couldn’t clear the ball, which led to Dike striking home the rebound.

At 1-1, Miami was still playing inspired. Winning balls in the midfield and organized defending translated into some positive play. A lot of the first half featured Inter Miami progressing into the final third with countless forward dribbles and passes. The use of Lewis Morgan on the wing seemed to be in the game plan for Diego Alonso’s side, but ultimately the opposite side provided Miami’s second goal.

In the 22nd minute, Sweat had received a pass from the midfield as he ran down the wing. With his head up, he saw Carranza making a run at the back post. Immediately Sweat put in a fantastic cross that Carranza was able to head perfectly. From the left side of the keeper at the back post, the striker lofted his headed attempt across to the top of the goal in an unreachable position. Just like that, Miami was back on top at 2-1.

Pizarro and Carranza were a delight to watch in the first 45 minutes. The play from the two going forward showcased what this team can bring on the offensive front. Carranza was extremely active in the entire match. He won a handful of freekicks for Miami and bothered Orlando defenders for the majority of the first half. The 2-1 lead at the halftime break was a result of inspiring play from the whole team.

Second Half

Inter Miami was able to carry this momentum straight out of the gate. The tactics from the first half did not change as Miami found themselves in a scoring position only three minutes into the restart.

Defender Nicolas Figal, who found himself a lot of freedom to go forward this game, played a backheel pass to Morgan on the wing. Morgan was able to put a ball into the box that found a backward header from Victor Ulloa that landed perfectly to Pizarro’s foot. In the most composed manner, Miami’s Number 10 slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give them a 3-1 lead.

Just seconds later after the goal, Carranza was on a break and found Pizarro with a headed through ball. He took a shot just inside the box and barely missed his chance for a second as he struck the inside of the far post. Even up 3-1, Miami fans were able to watch a hungry, attacking side.

After three yellow cards in a quick 13 minutes for Miami (53′, 62′, 66′), it was evident legs became heavy. Orlando had subbed on Chris Mueller at the half, who made quite the impact in the latter part of the match.

Immediately following a triple substitution for Miami, which featured Brek Shea, who made his first appearance for the club, Orlando scored a second goal. Dike did well to body LGP yet again and played a back pass to Mueller on the corner of the box. Mueller did well to send in a cross to the head of Luis Nani on the back post, and Robles had no chance. Now 78 minutes in, Miami was pressured to hold on.

Orlando threw numbers forward in the last 10 minutes plus 5 of added time, but ultimately Miami stood strong. Just like that, Inter Miami had finally won a game.

 

The 3-2 win will go down as a monumental day for Inter Miami. The first win and the first home game are two huge steps to take as a club. Miami will look to carry this momentum into Wednesday as they take on Atlanta United for the first time.

Five Reasons to be Excited about Inter Miami (4/5)

Inter Miami return to MLS action on August 22 against in-state rivals Orlando City. For each day leading up to the game, I’ll be going into detail explaining one of my five reasons to be excited about Inter Miami.  These five reasons, and dates of all and each coming piece, are listed below:

Reasons to be Excited About Inter Miami

  1. New Signings (August 17)
  2. Return of Robbie (August 18)
  3. Playing with More Experience (August 19)
  4. Potential Acquisitions (August 20)
  5. First Home Game (August 21)

Matchday will feature a pre and post-game piece as well.

Potential Signings

With the MLS Transfer Window open, Inter Miami has already made the biggest splash in the league. Blaise Matuidi is taking his talents to South Beach. The signing of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez before the MLS is Back Tournament is also going to be impactful in the restart. Fans still question if both these guys will fix all of the club’s problems.

Miami needs help in most areas of the field. If LGP and Matuidi cover the backline and the midfield, what does the club do about goalscoring? Daniel Sturridge, Roger Martinez, Edinson Cavani, are all a couple of names that have been in the mix for a while.

A Number 9

The Roger Martinez rumors were true, however, the clubs never reached an agreement in the pre-season. The Colombian international is a name that should still be considered. He’s a young, talented, prolific striker that may be able to create scoring chances for Miami in the final third.

Daniel Sturridge’s name was thrown around after he had contract issues in Turkey. Shortly around the time of Miami’s first game in Los Angeles, Sturridge seemed to be an intriguing acquisitio.n. As a player whos had major roles at major clubs, MLS would not be much of an issue for him. As he gets older though, the club has t question if it’s worth wasting a Designated Player spot on him, compared to other top tier strikers available.

Recently, Edinson Cavani’s name has been thrown around all over the world. Due to the rise of Kylian Mbappe and the signing of Mauro Icardi at PSG, Cavani has no place in Paris. Reports have come out that he has reached an agreement with Portuguese club Benfica. As a free agent, Inter Miami would be able to bring Cavani in for free, and on a short term deal as a DP, its hard not to say, “why not?” Cavani became a top tier striker in his seven years at PSG, and a move to MLS or Liga Nos would benefit him as he gets into the latter part of his career.

Best fit?

Miami needs a number 9. Miami also needs a wing-back as well as another midfielder to pair with Matuidi.

Roger Martinez would be a great get if the club can put him under the salary cap. This would leave room for Miami to leave the DP slot open for a world-class midfielder.

Arturo Vidal is likely on the move after the demise of FC Barcelona. As the club looks to move on from some older players, Vidal would be the ideal pairing for MAtuidi in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Another older player like Vidal who could be on the move is Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian spent most of his career with Machester United. As he became older, he lost his role at the English club and has since moved to a club in Quito, Ecuador. His veteran presence could prove to be impactful as Miami looks to develop rookie Dylan Nealis.

Missed Out

Before Inter Miami signed even half their roster, David Silva was meant to be headed to Miami this summer. The talks ended up being far off, and now Miami has officially lost the Manchester City maestro to Spanish club Real Sociedad. After the early talks, it was hardly mentioned again as he was still an impactful player for City. Silva still has the talent to offer good service to any European club.

Miami take the field this Saturday and no signing looks to be coming before then.

Make sure to look for tomorrow’s piece talking about the club’s debut at the new and improved Lockhart Stadium!

 

 

 

Inter Miami

Five Reasons to be Excited about Inter Miami (1/5)

Inter Miami return to MLS action on August 22 against in-state rivals Orlando City. For each day leading up to the game, I’ll be going into detail explaining one of my five reasons to be excited about Inter Miami.  These five reasons, and dates of all and each coming piece, are listed below:

Reasons to be Excited About Inter Miami

  1. New Signings (August 17)
  2. Return of Robbie? (August 18)
  3. Playing with More Experience (August 19)
  4. Potential Acquisitions (August 20)
  5. First Home Game (August 21)

Matchday will feature a pre and post-game piece as well.

New Signings

Suddenly and surprisingly, Inter Miami went out and acquired Blaise Matuidi. At 33 years old, Matuidi instantly fills in a hole in the midfield that Inter Miami struggled with in the recent Orlando tournament.

Matuidi’s role over the last couple of years has varied in terms of position. As a left-back, left midfielder, and primarily a center defensive midfielder, Matuidi proved to both Juventus and the French National team he’s a vital asset to any cup winning side. At the world cup in 2018, Didier Deschamps used Matuidi on the left side of the field the entire tournament. He played in five of the seven tournament games, started in four which included the final, that of which they won.

His qualities are more focused on winning the ball in the midfield Diego Alonso will likely use him in this way. Alonso’s formations vary between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-3. Both would cater to a player like Matuidi as he’s capable of being a ball winner, but also connecting play between the center backs and any attacking players. The French National team did use a 4-2-3-1 in which Matuidi played a left mid role, but with players like N’golo Kante and Paul Pogba, the midfield being locked down wasn’t in much trouble. Victor Ulloa and Wil Trapp were not of much help at any point in the Orlando tournament for Miami’s midfield, and oftentimes Rodolfo Pizarro was having to trackback. To relieve Pizarro of these duties is exactly what Matuidi will likely do. With Pizarro getting to focus more on creating while relying on Matuidi midfield to win the ball, hopefully, more chances are created.

Before the tournament, Inter Miami also announced the signing of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez from Club Tijuana of Mexico. Another major issue with Miami’s tournament games had been individual mistakes and “shakiness” at the back.

Pirez has a tremendous MLS resume at just 28 years old. Before leaving for Tijuana, he was named an MLS All-Star for the first time in 2019. Pirez also won the MLS Cup with Atlanta in 2018, one of the best teams the league has ever seen and was fourth in voting for MLS Defender of the year in 2017 and 2018. Pirez was the anchor for Atlanta United’s over the three years he was with them, having started every game he appeared in, even all 5 playoff matches that led them to MLS glory.

Miami’s defense, which is led by Nicolas Figal at the moment, hasn’t been too promising. Alonso has switched between both a three-back and four-back formation, but both have led to massive slip-ups. Bringing in Pirez will give Alonso solid starting quality which the team desperately needs. Looking at three in the back with Pirez included, he’d likely see himself playing alongside Figal and Andre Reyes. Figal is an aggressor and enforcer who likes to get up the pitch at times, and a player like Pirez would be able to allow this to happen as he is so solid defensively. The wing-backs have also struggled massively in this formation, mostly on the left side. Pirez like Figal is also a dominant physical presence that may have opposing sides struggle with their attacking play.

Matuidi and Pirez are set to make instant improvements to the Miami side. We will likely see Pirez hit the field first as Matuidi is not set for an appearance for a couple of weeks.

Look for tomorrow’s piece on the potential return of our striker Robbie Robinson.

 

 

Blaise Matuidi Officially Signs for Inter Miami

Inter Miami CF have gone out and signed a World Cup winner in Blaise Matuidi.

The midfielder will depart Juventus for free, a year before his contract was set to expire. Juventus had recently won the Serie A, but were knocked out in the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final last week. Following the loss, eyes were on Juventus to make major changes at the club. It started with the firing of Maurizio Sarri, and the hiring of Italian legend Andrea Pirlo as manager. Matuidi is thought to be the first of a number of players on the roster set to leave Turin, as they look to restructure the squad.

The Announcement

Bringing in Matuidi was talked about and declared “official” days before Inter Miami officially announced it. When the words “Here we go” are in any tweet from Fabrizio Romano, that’s when you know a deal is done. Romano, a world renowned football journalist and reporter, broke the news suddenly on the morning of August 10th.

Questions were asked about how Inter Miami would bring him in under the MLS Salary Budget. For a player of Matuidi’s quality, it’d be expected that Paul McDonough would have to waste a Designated Player (DP) slot on him. However, McDonough has pulled off the unthinkable here by signing Matuidi as a TAM player. TAM, or Targeted Allocation Money, is defined by MLS as “funds strategically provided by the league to teams to add or retain players that will make an immediate impact on the field.” This leaves the club with one more DP slot available . In a simple sense, a DP is a player who’s salary does not take effect and can exceed the MLS Salary Budget. Therefore, Inter still have a massive opportunity to sign another big name player.

On the Morning of August 13th, Inter Miami posted this tweet to tease Miami fans, “Who controls the field?”:

It was quickly followed with the actual announcement of the clubs new Number 8.

Blaise Matuidi: The Player

At 33 years old, Matuidi contributed heavily to the Scudetto winners in 2019-2020. Of the 38 games this year, Matuidi started in 23 and was subbed on in 12. An important piece to such a top team, Matuidi’s move to MLS may come as a surprise as it doesn’t seem his career was dwindling just yet.

Blaise Matuidi has been on more title winning sides than someone can count on both hands. He’s won the Ligue 1 title five times with PSG, the Serie A three times with Juventus, 12 cup titles in France, and another cup in Italy. Matuidi’s greatest accomplishment however, is his World Cup win with France in 2018.

Normally a center defensive midfielder, and a solid one at that, Matuidi has also proven he can play as a left midfielder, or left back too. In every game Matuidi featured in at the 2018 World Cup for France, he was asked to play on the left side. As a player, Matuidi is a more defensive minded midfielder who excels at winning the ball. Inter Miami, an MLS Expansion Side who’s struggled so far to retain possession and protect its backline, may have found a match made in heaven.

Overall, this is a huge signing by the club. David Beckham has brought in his former teammate to help solidify his midfield and team as a whole. It should be noted that Matuidi likely won’t play in Miami’s first couple of 2020 regular season matches and it is not known exactly when he will be available.

With that said, Miami fans should still be excited to bring in a proven winner like Blaise Matuidi.

Inter Miami are set to host Orlando City at Lockhart Stadium on August 22nd as the 2020 MLS Regular Season returns.

Grading Inter Miami after another loss

Losses: 3. Goals: 2. Answers: None.  That is how you could sum up Inter Miami’s winless and point-less (but not pointless) performance in the MLS Is Back tournament group stage, which ended with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of NYCFC on Monday morning and a last place finish with 0 points in Group A. Grading Inter Miami reflects the team’s uncertainty.

We saw old mistakes and new questions arise for Diego Alonso’s squad, which played very much like an expansion team in a must-win game that turned into an uninspiring one-way ticket back to Miami.

On to the grades.

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):

He bore no responsibility in NYCFC’s goal, left out to dry by a defense that took a nap at the most inopportune time. Having said that, he never was a savior in this tournament and the final match was no exception.

Mikey Ambrose (3):

Ambrose was daydreaming about the new Splash Mountain ride when he got caught ball watching and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi slipped by him. Contributed nothing on offense either, got replaced by Ben Sweat in the 68th minute. Just a forgettable night overall.

Jorge Figal (4):

Figal had a good first half and could have scored with a header in the 35th minute, but he was once again exposed as one of the main culprits in NYCFC’s goal, losing sight of Shradi by no communicating with Ambrose and with no closing speed to make up for it. Alonso and the Inter Miami fans expect much more out of him.

Román Torres (6):

The Panamanian center back imposed himself when pressed to action and prevented what could have been New York´s second goal with a great sweep.

Dylan Nealls (5): Got lost in the shuffle before exiting the match in the 79th minute by Alvin Powell.

Will Trapp (4): NYCFC had possession 60% of the time, and that was in part because of the fact that Trapp could never assert himself in the heart of midfield. Replaced by Lee Nguyen in the 68th minute.

Víctor Ulloa (4): Was he auditioning for “Casper”? Because he was a ghost and went unnoticed before coming off the field for Jay Chapman in the 79th minute.

Matías Pellegrini (3): Miami´s lowest point along with Ambrose, but even more noticeable since he was supposed to be one of the catalysts on offense but did absolutely nothing. Could never connect with Pizarro or generate a single decent chance. Alonso took him out for Julián Carranza in the 68th minute.

Rodolfo Pizarro (5): He tried. Unsuccessfully, but he tried. The Mexican star was clearly frustrated, isolated in an island by the NYCFC defense. He’s unable to create a single opportunity for himself or others.

Lewis Morgan (6):

Morgan was Inter Miamí´s best player of the tournament. And he was the only one remotely close to destabilizing the opposing defense with his speed. His shot from medium distance was Inter´s lone non-header chance, and it went just high over the crossbar.

Juan Agudelo (4): Started out well with a beautiful header that didn´t put Miami in the lead because of a great save. But the Colombian striker did less and less after that and ended up going to the locker room before the final whistle because of a childish red card after pushing off in the box in the 90th minute.

Grading Inter Miami: the Others

Lee Nguyen (Inc.): Nguyen was supposed to give a spark to the Miami offense. But all he did was put the defense at risk losing the ball at midfield and creating a scoring chance for the opponent as a result.

Julián Carranza (Inc.): Alonso put him in too late with Inter Miami already down 0-1. And his partnership with Agudelo as dual strikers never blossomed.

Jay Chapman (Inc.): Meh.

Alvas Powell (Inc.): He was in the match?

Ben Sweat (Inc.): If Ambrose isn´t the answer, Sweat continues to prove that he isn´t either.