A two-hour lightning storm delay saw an electric display of hardcore passion by “La Familia” with lots of music and hype before the start of the match. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to spark the Herons to victory.
Phil Neville put all his chips on the table Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo. The coach used a surprisingly attack-minded lineup that featured Robert Taylor, Gregore, and Jean Mota in midfield, with Robbie Robinson and Ariel Lassiter on the wings and Gonzalo Higuain at center forward, his more natural position.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 3, 2022
The Herons had the majority of possession during the match (54%-46%), along with taking twice as many shots (22-11) on goal as Houston. Miami also took four more corner kicks (7-3) than the Dynamo, demonstrating an aggressive attacking team. Neville’s lineup changes provided a positive effect that did not affect the most important aspect of the game, the scoreboard.
Post Match Press Conference
Phil Neville once again looked tight and frustrated as he held his press conference; completely understandable after he made many adjustments to the lineup trying to turn the team’s fortunes around. The coach mentioned how the team had many shots on goal, but few were on target.
Neville said the team was not “ ruthless enough and was getting punished for every mistake”… he said that the team must be “more ruthless in attack”.
This team is simply not effective when it has had clear scoring opportunities. The players must show their quality and composure as the coach has requested of them.
Robbie Robinson was visibly upset at the press conference, his face an open book showing discontent. Robinson stated that the team “needs to be composed in front of goal”. Robinson is very direct in his commentary, answering questions straight to the point. He stated that “It comes down to finishing simple as that.” Scoring has been anything but simple for this team. Saturday’s game had a dominant Heron squad on the pitch lose once again for its lack of efficiency with its shots on goal. Despite the doom and gloom of the situation Robinson believes in his team, “I think we can turn this around.” Time is running out on this squad to revert the situation.
“I think we can turn this around”, Robinson’s message to the fans..the team and the coach still believe, but do the fans? The Herons need a positive result soon, time is slipping away @InterMiamiCF @LemonCityLive
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) April 3, 2022
Murphy’s Law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Murphy must have been thinking about Inter Miami CF when he wrote that. Phil Neville is receiving major criticism from the fanbase, and deservedly so, as coach of this team with an 0-4-1 record, but the guy can’t catch a break. The lineup changes he made on Saturday night were surprising to me given his tepid moves in the previous four games. Neville sent in his estimation, the best-attacking players onto the pitch against Houston looking to outscore a team that had lost its previous 26 matches on the road. His team had possession, more shots on goal, and still managed to get walloped 3-1 at home thanks to an unlucky deflection and a major mistake by his veteran stalwart goalkeeper. The final goal came on a counter when the team was desperately looking for the equalizer in extra time.
Higuaín continues to move freely on the pitch, he has created some opportunities for his teammates.. now they need to get him some chances on goal https://t.co/zdonnB8jMn
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) April 3, 2022
Taylor, Gregore, and Mota were a major change from the usual Adams, Gregore, and Mota starting midfield. For one, Robert Taylor adds a creative flair and ability that Adams does not possess, and gives Mota a partner on the pitch to create combination plays moving forward into the attack. The trio controlled most of the action with Taylor and Mota taking several shots on goal. I applaud Neville for making changes, drastic times require drastic measures, but Adams is outplaying Gregore and in my opinion, should be part of the starting trio in midfield along with Mota and Taylor. Gregore tends to get caught up too high on defense when the Herons lose the ball. Mo Adams has shown a tenacity to defend that no other midfielder on this team has, and as the single-pivot, I think he would be better than the team captain Gregore.
Robinson, Higuain, and Lassiter up top looked good for Miami, with Lassiter and Robinson taking on defenders constantly throughout the match. Higuain had to drop often to get the ball, leaving space up top for Robinson and Lassiter to attack. This trio is speedy and shifty, except for Higuain. So technically it’s a duo, Gonzalo slows the attack down. I’ve said it before, Robinson could be the center forward in the 4-3-3 formation with a combination of speedy wingers to feed passes into him. Azcona, Rodriguez, Lassiter, ect. anyone with speed and mobility, things Gonzalo lacks. I don’t believe in erasing Higuain, that would be silly, but I do think he is better as a super-sub or 40’ minutes a game player for this team. His quality is undeniable, but he can’t maintain intensity for long periods of time.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) April 3, 2022
Noah Allen is a polarizing player for the Herons, many in the fanbase love him while others think he is not fit to start at the MLS level. I think this young player is paying his dues while he improves progressively each game he plays. On Saturday I saw a more aggressive Allen use his body several times to displace attackers off the ball and win possession. I saw a player that makes runs constantly up the left side and treats the ball well when it is at his feet. Is Noah perfect, no but neither is Brek Shea or Kieran Gibbs. Both veteran players have had their negative moments on the pitch too. Shea has been a liability on defense whether as a fullback or a center-back, while Gibbs can’t stay healthy. The teenager is available and the moment has not been too big for him.
The Question Everyone Keeps Asking
Finally, do I think Neville should be fired? No, I do not, at least not yet. I’ve advocated for a midseason review before taking that action. Does it look good right now, no it does not. Neville is trying everything at his disposal to get this team a win. If he sits Gregore and Higuain I’d love to see how the team reacts on the pitch. His two leaders haven’t been good enough, and perhaps a swift benching gets them back to form.
Photo | Yaismil Rolo