Inter Miami Falls to FC Cincinnati 3-1, Stays Winless | March 19th, 2022

Inter Miami Falls Cincinnati

Inter Miami CF falls hard in defeat, 3-1 to FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

The disappointing Herons lost for the first time in 5 matchups against the suddenly charging Orange & Blue. Cincinnati has now won two games in a row after losing their previous fourteen. 

1st Half Insights

FC Cincinnati is primarily a counter-attacking team that waits for their opponents’ mistakes to pounce quickly and cause damage. The first minutes of the game saw the Orange & Blue allow Miami possession of the ball. 

At the 3’ mark, Inter Miami built up play down the left side of the Cincy defense with Yedlin crossing the ball aimlessly into the area. Higuain was unmarked at the top of the box and DeAndre didn’t see him.  Too many times players are not seeing the best-positioned teammate for the crucial connection. A footballer of Yedlin’s pedigree has to be better at making connections on crosses into the area. 

After 15’ Cincy realized the Herons were not much of an attacking threat and began to control the ball and the game. 

A pass by Brandon Vázquez across the box found Ronald Matarrita, who kicked the ball into the Miami net for the 1-0 lead at the 18’ mark. Merely a few minutes later, Matarrita returned the favor, sending a proper ball into the box for a Vázquez header and the 2-0 lead. 

Yedlin was clipped in the box by Matarrita causing a penalty to be called by the referee at the 28’. Gonzalo Higuain masterfully slides the ball into the back of the Cincy net. The only meaningful action by the Herons in the first half. 

2nd Half Insights

Gonzalo Higuain attempted to dribble into the Cincy box through the middle of the defense. He was displaced off the ball at the 47’. Higuain’s speed, flow, and finesse are not what they used to be. Quite frankly, he looks a bit awkward in the play. His attempt to be aggressive is valued, but the team is getting pennies on the dollar for their investment in him. 

At the 60’ Noah Allen comes on for Gibbs, and Ariel Lassiter enters the game for Mo Adams. Just like the previous game against LAFC, Adams is one of the players with the best work rate in the game and is substituted. I would have liked to have seen Gregore get subbed off and have Mo Adams with Mota as pivots. In my estimation, Adams and Mota provide greater balance together for the team. Adams is a lion defending while Mota has more vision and technical ability out of the back. Gregore has not been spectacular so far this season. He is of similar characteristics with Adams, whom I prefer because of his valor on defense. Gregore is the captain and has the confidence of coach Neville, and that’s probably what’s keeping him in the games.

No Difference Maker

Robbie Robinson makes his first appearance of the season in the 71’ coming on for Leonardo Campana. It is difficult to understand why Lassiter plays up top, closer to the goal, and Robinson is positioned on the right-wing. Lassiter is a nice player, but his finishing ability leaves much to be desired. Robinson’s speed and physical gifts seem to be better suited to pair with Higuain as threats to score those hard-to-find goals for IMCF. 

In the 79’, Gregore with a run in the box meekly fires a left-footed shot into the path of the Cincy goalkeeper, Alec Kann. 

In the 81’, the most dangerous man on the pitch, Vázquez, headed another ball into the Miami goal. It looks like he pushes Noah Allen from behind before connecting with the ball, but the Heron teenage defender doesn’t get the call. Put a fork in it, this game is over. 

In the 95’, Lassiter misses a wide-open header into an empty Cincy goal. This is just the cherry on top. No quality or composure on that play, elements that have been lacking for this team.

Phil Neville Press Conference

Coach Phil Neville looked tired and disheartened after the game.

He stated he was, “Really disappointed, wanted to build on some things I saw last week against LAFC .”

Against LAFC the Herons put up a fight, played an intense game even while the team was a man down after the Brek Shea send-off.  The attitude and intensity were different for the FC Cincinnati game, the team looked unfocused, lifeless. If the quality is not there, then the team needs to show some passion for the fans. Four games into the campaign and the team is not showing that they want to play hard for Phil.

Neville believes the players are not playing to their full capabilities, “The levels I expect are far above the levels we’ve seen..in the first four games really”. 

This is not only an indictment on his players but an indictment on coach Neville as well. Either he is not getting the most out of his team, or he’s simply asking for more than what the players have to give. Perhaps he and his staff overestimated the quality of the players they acquired. The results up until now show a weak team. Can they turn it around? 

What to Change?

Coach Neville said, “We brought all our attacking players on and we just didn’t get the quality.”

At one point Higuain, Campana, Taylor, Lassiter, Mota, and Gregore were together on the pitch. This group could not muster any real dangerous sequences of play. The jigsaw puzzle has not come together. Neville has not found the right mix for this team, and it seems he has tied his own hands by placing great confidence in Higuain and Gregore. They are the undeniable leaders of this team, yet neither one has been a difference-maker thus far through four games. Young skilled attacking players like Emerson Rodriguez and George Acosta sit on the bench waiting for their opportunity.  At what instance does Neville give them a chance, and at what instance does Neville decide his star players have lost their shine? 

Final Thoughts

On Friday I tweeted that the game against FC Cincinnati would say a lot about IMCF, and it did. None of what this game said was good. The Herons were clearly dominated by a team that had just won their first game after 14 consecutive losses dating back to last season. This game said that the Inter Miami starting eleven does not have nearly as much quality as their coach believes they have. 

IMCF is a team without an identity and without a true leader. Higuain gets the big bucks, Gregore wears the captain’s band, but neither leads this team like they are expected to. On the field and in crucial moments a leader steps up and shows the way, be it by quality, physicality, or sheer will. 

Coach Neville is having trouble putting the jigsaw puzzle together. The handful of moves and adjustments the coach has attempted have not worked in these four games. Now with a couple of weeks off, he can go back to the drawing board and try new things. This is a young team and that has been the major excuse, yet the starters have been predominantly veteran players. Players like Azcona, Acosta, Rodriquez sit while this team struggles to score goals. Maybe it’s time to put them into the mix. 

Through four games, the team does not look any more cohesive than they did in game one of the season. I have advocated for patience, but if there is not an improvement in the next four games, then something has to give.  

Houston, New England, Seattle, and Atlanta are the next four rivals in that order. This game said that Inter Miami is in trouble. The majority of the starters are in trouble, Phil Neville is in trouble.

📸Credit: FC Cincinnati

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