Hong Kong Stadium – Inter Miami CF won its first match on its international tour against the Hong Kong XI by a score of 4-1. The Herons featured a mixed Starting XI with Lionel Messi left off the game-day roster and Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Luis Suarez coming off the bench.
Robert Taylor, Lawson Sunderland, Leo Campana, and Ryan Sailor each scored a goal for the Herons. The victory ended an eleven-game winless streak for Inter Miami, bringing a much-needed morale boost to the team.
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) February 4, 2024
Miami’s international tour had seen the Herons perform progressively worse from match to match, until the win in Hong Kong. An initial 0-0 draw against a weak El Salvador National Team started the trip on the wrong foot. The showdown in Texas ended with a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas after conceding an early goal by Jesus Ferreira. The Herons then took flight on the Asia part of the tour.
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) February 1, 2024
In Saudi Arabia, the Herons crash-landed with a pair of lousy results. The first match versus Al-Hilal saw Miami go down 3-1 at the half and eventually lose 4-3. Miami looked impotent early on, unable to play out of Al-Hilal’s high press. In the next match, Al-Nassr followed the gameplan and pressured Inter Miami, leading to an early 3-0 lead. Cristiano Ronaldo’s team took joy in finishing the job with a final 6-0 walloping of Miami.
The fanbase, the pundits, and anyone with an opinion have been critical of Inter Miami’s lackluster international tour performance so far, and rightfully so. Despite the preseason setbacks, there’s no reason to panic.
Inter Miami will have traveled an extraordinary 25,165,54 miles on its first-ever international tour once it is done. That’s almost a season’s worth of air miles in about a month for the Herons.
Miami ✈️ San Salvador
San Salvador ✈️ Dallas
Dallas ✈️ Riyadh
Riyadh ✈️ Hong Kong
Hong Kong ✈️ Tokyo
Tokyo ✈️ Miami
Inter Miami will travel more than 24,000 miles on their preseason tour 😪 pic.twitter.com/jwxkHUC0eY
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 18, 2024
Once the MLS season begins for Miami, the travel will not be as arduous or as prolonged. Miami played two Saudi teams in mid-season form with much higher payrolls, in their home stadiums. The odds were stacked against them on all sides. This will not be the case once the regular season begins.
This preseason Tata Martino has almost exclusively used the 5-3-2 tactical formation until Miami switched to a 4-3-3 versus the Hong Kong Team. The backline of five has made the three center-backs look uncomfortable defending large spaces and playing out of the back against pressure. The Herons looked much better against the Hong Kong Team in large part due to its player’s familiarity with the 4-3-3 formation.
Tata Martino noticed how Inter Miami seemed more at ease with this system,
“We returned to our usual four-three-three formation, and it is clear that the team felt much more comfortable on the pitch.”
Likely, Inter Miami will mostly play in the 4-3-3 formation once the regular season begins, and use the 5-3-2 strategically during games. The players will be more at ease in a system that is better suited to their characteristics.
This tour has always been a business decision. Despite the results, it is unquestionable that the Inter Miami CF brand has gained global exposure. Miami’s pink kits could be seen all over the stadiums in each of the stops along the tour. Expanding the brand, staying healthy, and getting some games in have always been the plan. Unfortunately, Facundo Farias and Benjamin Cremaschi suffered serious injuries.
Reinforcements Are On The Way
Inter Miami has players returning from injury like Franco Negri, Ian Fray, and Benjamin Cremaschi. Once they are available, the squad will have gained three quality players in key positions. Diego Gomez and Jean Mota will also return to the team. Nicolas Freire was acquired to cover for the loss of Kamal Miller.
Rising young players Lawson Sunderland and Israel Boatwright give the Herons mobility and speed. David Ruiz is consolidating himself as an important player, while Ryan Sailor had a breakout game against the Hong Kong team. These young players give Inter Miami depth and options for the season.
We can’t forget about Gregore and his triumphant return from a serious injury. He’s looked like his old self during this tour, and that’s a big plus for the Herons.
Keep Smiling Miami
It’s only preseason and no real trophies are given out. Tata and the boys needed to find their best system and the best eleven, and these games should have helped him do just that. It’s not the end of the story but only the beginning, so keep smiling Miami. The best is yet to come.
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) January 29, 2024