Dissecting Inter Miami: The Problem With Possession

Although Miami won the possession battle last night, their attack fell flat. Maybe having less of the ball is a good thing? Let's Dissect.

photo credit: Inter Miami CF

Yesterday, Inter Miami played their worst game of the season.

The Herons fell 2-0 to a Montreal side that was cohesive, tough, and had a clear tactical plan to stymie Miami’s offense.

Although there have been plenty of positive takeaways from previous matches Miami has played in, last night was pretty dire - the weather certainly didn’t help either.

While Miami may have possessed the ball a bit more against Montreal, the attack was largely ineffective. The defense also didn’t cover themselves in glory either.

What went wrong? And should Miami become a team that hurts their opponents in transition?

More Possession, More Problems?

After the Atlanta game, Neville decided to be consistent and keep the same starting XI:

Nothing too surprising except Ryan Shawcross getting his third consecutive start. The Englishman is known to have injury issues, so the fact that he was able to play in three straight matches without any fitness problems is a testament to Inter Miami’s medical staff.


Going into this game, possession was a big talking point.

In Miami’s first four matches, they’ve lost the possession battle every time. While some were saying Miami needs to get their percentages up, looking at the stat sheet from last night was shocking:

Miami “won” the possession battle, yet they were outshot 6-11. Montreal created more chances, took their chances, and ultimately, Miami couldn’t claw their way back.

Yes, Miami played more passes, had more touches on the ball, and more possession, but possession without purpose is useless.

Last night, the Herons kept the ball well, but they were lacking ideas in the final third; this could be down to improper personnel.

On May 11th, Neville had a press conference where he touched on switching up his tactical ideas in order to fit the players at his disposal:

He’s right.

Because of the type of players that Miami has, Neville is forced to change his tactical approach.

Instead of keeping the ball, the Herons, more often than not, have been a team that has a compact defense and looks to score through counterattacks.

For all the talk about possession, it feels like Miami does better when they don’t have the ball.

Just because they don’t possess the ball well enough in games, doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t create good scoring opportunities.

Take the Atlanta match on Sunday:

Miami had 38% possession, yet they created more chances than Atlanta, had more shots than them, and had a higher expected goals (xG) tally.

Though Atlanta had more passes, more touches on the ball, and had a higher pass completion percentage, by the end of the match, Miami looked like the likelier team to win that game.

This isn’t the only match where this has happened.

Against Philadelphia, Miami had 47% possession compared to the Union’s 53%, however, Miami ended up winning that match through a goal that came in transition:

Against LA, though the Galaxy out-possessed them 66.% to 33% and eventually won the match, Miami outshot them 19-6, and absolutely smashed them in chances created 17-6. If Miami converted at least 3 of those 19 shots, the Herons would’ve walked away with three points on opening day.

Now, this isn’t to say that Miami doesn’t need to have more of the ball. Naturally, when you have the ball, your opponents can’t score.

But, when most of your goals are scored through catching the defense in transition and capitalizing off mistakes, you know the old saying, if it’s not broken….

Inter Miami’s next game is against FC Cincinnati. Let’s see what side of Miami shows up in Ohio.