Florida Blue Training Center – When is a simple pre-season scrimmage not a simple pre-season scrimmage? When Inter Miami CF loses to expansion team St. Louis City SC 4-0, that’s when. The Herons took the big L Saturday afternoon, and it has the fanbase going ballistic.
After overachieving last season and making the MLS Playoffs as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, Inter Miami has loftier goals for the 2023 campaign. A top-four finish in the conference and a home playoff match are the next steps for the Herons in their quest for a championship.
So far in their preseason matches the Herons seem to be taking more steps backward than forward. A lopsided 3-0 loss to Brazilian side Vasco da Gama was followed with a 4-1 victory over Florida International University, and now a 4-0 thrashing by expansion team St. Louis City.
The fanbase wants answers and explanations as to why this squad doesn’t look more polished and in better form. I’ll attempt to provide some perspective and insight as to why it’s way too early to panic or feel the season is doomed.
The St. Louis Scrimmage
Against St. Louis, the Herons purposely forced themselves to play out through their center-backs despite the enormous high pressure they faced. It was impressive to see how City maintained their defensive intensity throughout the scrimmage, in fact finishing with a clean sheet.
Getting ready to watch the #InterMiamiCF v #StLouisCitySC scrimmage .. pic.twitter.com/qVj1Exy9qO
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) January 28, 2023
Aime Mabika had a tough time playing clean balls to initiate the Heron attack with every space on the pitch contested by the St. Louis players. Chris Mcvey had a little better luck due to his ability to dribble out of pressure and pass to teammates left open by the shifting defense. Serhiy Kryvtsov, the Ukrainian international center-back that is expected to sign with the team has also shown the ability to play cleanly out of the defense in his career. Ryan Sailor, the young center-back that is currently injured has a knack for making clean passes and avoiding mistakes.
The Miami center-backs should be fine with this style of play, with Mabika needing a little more time to find his comfort level, but he possesses the ability to do so.
Noah Allen had a very strong showing, making crisp passes and displaying nice technical ability. Allen even had a right-footed blast go just over the crossbar. Noah is going to give Phil options at the left-back and left-wing-back positions this season. Year two should be a big year for him.
DeAndre Yedlin is a proven veteran that needs to provide game-changing ability on the right side of the Heron defense. Against St. Louis he was adequate, this season he needs to be consistently at an all-star level. Franco Negri, Kieran Gibbs, Harvey Neville, and Noah Allen give Miami depth at the full-back position.
Gregore had a good scrimmage, hustling and providing his usual gritty performance. Jean Mota’s absence was noticeable given that he is usually the midfielder that passes the ball cleanly out of the Heron defense. Bryce Duke was also missing, and he is an all-terrain player. Rodolfo Pizarro, Robert Taylor, and Coco Jean made up the rest of the midfield diamond with Gregore, and for the most part, they were held in check by St. Louis and their constant ball pressure.
Nicolas Stefanelli, Edison Azcona, and Benjamin Cremaschi had good moments. Stefanelli showed he can find spaces to receive and then dish off to the forwards. His first action with the Herons was a positive one, and in a few minutes, he looked more active than Coco Jean, who played a similar position during the scrimmage.
Azcona and Cremaschi both give Neville fresh options in the midfield. Cremaschi is a boy with a man’s body and game. He plays physical, is intense, and has a good technical ability which will improve with playing more games. Azcona is another option for Miami as an attacking midfielder in my estimation, and he too looked better than Coco in his minutes played. With several starting caliber players missing, Miami’s midfield was outplayed by St. Louis. I don’t know if Pozuelo will be a part of this team, but I do know that his skillset is sorely missing from this squad. Honestly, Indiana Vassilev looked better as an attacking midfielder for St. Louis than any of the Herons that played that position for Miami.
38' – Indy buries a free kick against his old side
— St Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) January 28, 2023
Leo Campana along with Ariel Lassiter were swarmed by the City defense during their time on the pitch. Josef Martinez is yet to play and he should add a different dimension to the Heron attack. Robbie Robinson and Jake La Cava had decent games for Miami. La Cava looks like a good under the radar pick up for the team.
The forwards must be fed dangerous passes in order to score, and Miami’s best two players at providing assists were Alejandro Pozuelo and Bryce Duke, neither has played a minute for the Herons this preseason. Someone needs to step up for the Herons and create synergy with the forwards, if not the scoring drought against quality competition will continue.
Duke, Mota, Martinez, Negri, and Kryvtsov are all likely starters for Inter Miami. None of these players has played a minute for the Herons in pre-season, thus making it difficult to project what this team will look like in the regular season. Miami has taken these friendlies as opportunities to try new formations and players. The truth is that the results are of little value in the assessment of the team.
An Inter Miami CF squad at full strength will undoubtedly be better than what they have shown so far in pre-season. It’s difficult to be patient when expectations are so high, especially with a team that has promised so much to the fans.
Inter Miami is an enigma right now, with so many missing pieces it’s hard to project what this team’s ceiling can be. The only thing I do know is that this squad is not as bad as it has played so far and that the players who will be starting in the regular season will make a difference. The only thing that is imperative is that the team not have a terrible start to the season like they did last campaign, Gonzalo Higuain is no longer here to rescue them.
A penalty kick goal puts St Louis up 0-4.. even for a scrimmage this is not a good look for #InterMiamiCF
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) January 29, 2023
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