What Went Wrong? Herons Crash & Burn in Cincinnati

Herons Cincinnati

TQL StadiumInter Miami‘s four-game winning streak came to a crashing halt as FC Cincinnati thrashed the Herons 6-1. Reigning MLS MVP Lucho Acosta scored a goal and served two assists while putting on a show for the home crowd. With a game in hand, Cincinnati now leads the Supporter’s Shield race by one point.

Starting XI

Drake Callender started in goal for Miami, with Marcelo Weigandt, Sergeii Kryvtsov, Sergio Busquets, and Franco Negri forming the backline of four. Federico Redondo, Yannick Bright, Benjamin Cremaschi in midfield, Leo Campana, Julian Gressel, and Robert Taylor as the front line of three.

Match Action; What Went Wrong?

Inter Miami had one of its worst displays this season Saturday night in Cincinnati, receiving a 6-1 thrashing by the home team. A look back at the match can give us some ideas as to what went so wrong for the Herons.

For starters, the center-back pairing of Sergio Busquets and Sergeii Kryvtsov was not ideal when facing a fast dynamic squad like Cincy.  They provide a strong veteran presence in the middle of the defense but at the cost of lacking speed and mobility. Any 1v1 play in the open field is an immediate mismatch and liability for Miami with that pair. There were options on the bench like Ryan Sailor and Ian Fray who are both faster and more mobile, especially Fray. Tomas Aviles was not available due to some pain in his knee.

When asked if he considered playing Toto Aviles or Ian Fray on the defense Tata Martino stated,

“With Toto we ran a risk because he had an issue with his knee and we preferred not to play him, with Ian we never considered him to start the match”

Martino made it clear that he prefers the “safe” route when considering the center-backs. He values experience over potential at the moment. Unless Fray has any lingering aches, he could have started the match. Ryan Sailor has played well when given the chance, he too could have received an opportunity. In the end, the Coach is the one who sees the players every day and has the most insight on who is most fit to play. Still, I would have liked to have seen Busquets paired with one of the younger defenders.

Kryvtsov’s shortcomings are evident early on in the match when in the 10th minute he tries to pressure Luca Orellano high up the pitch and Orellano turns on him rather easily and is off to the races. Busquets is out of position and tries to lure Orellano into making an offside pass to Kubo but the Japanese forward stays onside. Busquets is left chasing the play and his lack of speed facilitates the run for Kubo who puts it past Callender for the 1-0 Cincy lead.

The second Cincy goal has Kryvtsov and Sergio looking awful as they both have their hips and ankles broken on the same cut by Acosta. Granted, Acosta is a superb player but both center-backs cannot be dismantled so easily. Their lack of agility and speed facilitates the Lucho Acosta goal.  Ian Fray or Ryan Sailor could have most likely provided better defending on that play or better support.

On the third goal, Acosta placed a wonderful corner kick cross to Pavel Bucha, who volleyed a kick unmarked from just outside the box. Nine Miami players were in the box “defending” on the corner and not one bothered to reference Bucha and his teammate planted just outside the box. To make matters worse, not one Miami player pushed the Cincy player that was standing in front of Callender trying to obstruct his view and path to the ball. It was as if no one was aware of what was happening around them.

Miami was a comedy of errors on a night when they needed to be at their best. Even Drake Callender made a costly mistake on Cincinnati’s fourth goal in the first half. Acosta served a ball over the top of the Miami defense and into the box for Yamil Asad. Callender mistimed his attempt at the ball and found himself alone in front of Asad, instead of pressuring him Drake backed off and gave Asad enough space and time to blast the ball into the net.

Busquets’ bad night got worse in the second half when Luca Orellano burned him to set up a score. The Argentine controlled a long ball and turned on the jets charging into the box while leaving behind a hapless Busquets and Franco Negri. Orellano laid the ball off to Kubo who scored Cincy’s fifth goal.

Sergio Busquet’s worst night in an Inter Miami uniform ended with a silly double yellow booking after arguing a foul called on Leo Campana. Center Referee Chris Penso had a very short leash for Sergio and did not hesitate to send the Spaniard early to the showers. It seemed a bit soft to me, but the fact is that Sergio let his frustration get the best of him, and Penso had a quick trigger.

Cincy’s sixth and final goal had Leo Campana trying to defend out on the wing where Leo stopped his run on the give-and-go, apparently injured, it allowed the unmarked Cincy player to pass the ball into Dado Valenzuela who put it in between Drake’s legs for the goal. The whole sequence showed a confused Inter Miami defense with numbers in the box, yet could not anticipate Cincinnati’s players’ movements or intentions.

Time To Panic?

Inter Miami’s loss to Cincinnati was embarrassing but it’s not the end of the world. Several unusual circumstances occurred to make the defeat as bad as it was. For one, the pairing of Kryvtsov and Busquets at center-back was not a great decision by Tata. Busquets in particular had probably one of his worst nights of his career, something I don’t think will happen again the next time they face FC Cincinnati.  Cincy Coach Pat Noonan seemed to surprise Martino with his formation change for Cincinnati and Martino did not seem to have an answer. I don’t expect that to be the case the next time the two squads play.

The Heron’s schedule had them play three road games in a row, and that can wear on a team. I expected a tough game in Cincy, a tie, or maybe even a loss in a tight game, but it appears that the players were drained. Now they will have some time off to rest and recharge for the games ahead. Cincy will travel to Miami in August and it should be a much better match.

Without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, Inter Miami has won twelve out of a possible fifteen points thus far, a sum that keeps the Herons high in the overall standings. One bad loss cannot diminish the wonderful results this squad has managed. The Herons live to fight another day, and it will undoubtedly be better than that miserable result in Cincinnati.

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