New-look Inter Miami CF and Chicago Fire Draw 0-0 | Feb. 26, 2022

Inter Miami Chicago draw

Fort Lauderdale, FL – The new-look Inter Miami CF took on the Chicago Fire Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium (The Nest), ending in a 0-0 draw. Both teams had major roster rebuilds in the off-season. These dramatic changes often lead to an adjustment period for both staff and players.

coach Neville stated in a pre-season press conference:

“The first ten days of pre-season we had a new team, new players, and new staff, and the place was as if someone had pressed the mute button on the remote control. No noise whatsoever in and around the training ground.” 

The lack of familiarity was evident early in the game. However, as the minutes passed the team chemistry improved, especially in the second half. Nine starters made their debut with the Herons, signifying that this team has coach Neville’s fingerprints all over it.

‘These are the players I have chosen to do what I want them to do, and I have to live and die by that.”

Despite the Herons’ first game not being a spectacular showing, there are reasons for optimism given the infusion of new talent combined with veteran leadership.

Gregore & Higuain Leaders of The Herons

In the 3-5-2 formation, Gonzalo Higuain is given greater freedom to roam the pitch. He displayed his ability to set up his teammates. A couple of dazzling passes to Yedlin and Campana created clear scoring opportunities. Higuain can leverage all his experience and talent while minimizing his defensive liabilities in this “false nine” role.

Gregore was his usual steady and pivotal player in the midfield and now he has in Jean Mota a great compliment. He’s an excellent defensive presence that blends smoothly into the Heron’s attack. With Mota at his side, he’s able to take greater liberties offensively because of his countryman’s quality attacking and defending.

“Phil gives us a lot of freedom for us to make decisions. Defensively we have our roles and positions, but in attack, we have the freedom to go forward and create scoring opportunities.”

Both Higuain and Gregore must lead this young and talented team in the locker room and on the pitch. Higuain is the more vocal leader and can be seen gesticulating on the pitch trying to communicate with his teammates, while Gregore expresses his leadership in a different style.

“My responsibility as a captain is one I’m glad to have, but I express it through my action. It’s through my actions that I can be an example to the younger players on the team.”

New Talent, New Hope

Of the 14 new players on the roster, nine started the game on Saturday for the Herons. Goalkeeper, Clement Diop showed great instinct and ability in goal, saving the team on several Chicago scoring opportunities. Diop and Nick Marsman provide a very solid tandem in goal for Inter Miami.

The backline of Christopher McVey, Damion Lowe, and Jairo Quinteros had a solid showing, working efficiently as a unit despite the fact that it was their first official game together. Damion Lowe played well enough to be included in the MLS “Team of The Week” on the bench. Good teams have strong defenses, and it appears that defense will be a strength for the team as these players continue to gel and improve their communication with more minutes together on the pitch. 

17-year-old, Noah Allen and U.S. International player, DeAndre Yedlin gave the Herons depth on the wings. Allen shows great promise and plays with a demeanor wise beyond his years. Yedlin, in particular, contributed with his speed and extensive playing experience. He’ll surely be a key contributor for Inter Miami CF with his ability to make runs and get behind opposing defenders.

On the Flip Side

Mo Adams and Jean Mota are a nice combination of talented two-way players. Each can defend well and provide quality and skill on the offensive end. Jean Mota, specifically, adds a talent boost with his beautiful passes and technical ability. He’s an important piece to the puzzle that coach Neville is constructing. He and Higuain must be the conductors of this orchestra. 

Leonardo Campana is a physical presence in the box at 6’ 2” and provides a big target for Higuain and Mota to filter and cross passes inside. Campana had a pair of dangerous headers in the game, anticipating the ball on Fire defenders.  The wingers should be able to find Campana with crosses through the defense as they get acclimated to his movements on the pitch.

Robert Taylor and Ariel Lassiter provided a burst of energy off the bench for the Herons. These speedy and shifty players added some spice to the Inter Miami attack. Their ability to get behind defenders to attract through-passes allows Higuain and Mota to filter crisp balls behind the defense. The pace and intensity this duo provides should lead to more scoring opportunities.

The Result

Although the 0-0 draw was not the result the fans wanted at home, the first game provided subtle moments of what the new players can provide for the team. It takes time to gel, moreover when nine of the eleven starters are making their debut with the team. It’s evident that there is talent on the team and with more games played, the team should find its stride. Patience is a virtue not all fans have.

📸 Credit: Andrea Yanez – DTUSA

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