Dissecting Inter Miami: vs FC Cincinnati

Pizarro out, Federico in, and a tactical turning point...? Inter Miami made it close, but they got another 3 points on the road. Let's Dissect.

photo credit: Inter Miami CF

After a sobering loss to Montreal, Inter Miami bounced back with a 3-2 win that was a little….too close for comfort against FC Cincinnati.

The biggest talking point from this game was the benching of Rodolfo Pizarro. The Mexico international has been out of form thus leading to lackluster performances on the pitch.

In the meantime, Federico Higuain has stepped up and filled the number “10” role that Miami was desperately missing:

The tactical decision proved to be a good one.

Despite an attempted comeback by Cincinnati, Miami kept their composure and managed to come out unscathed.

How did they do it?

Let’s Dissect.

No Pizarro, No Problem..?

Neville kept the formation the same but switched out personnel. Sami Guediri got his first start in an Inter Miami shirt, Federico Higuain came in for Pizarro, and Brek Shea got the nod at left wing:

Almost immediately you could see how different Inter Miami looked on the pitch with a real “10.”

Miami was fluid, looked good in transition, and had a real ball carrier in the middle of the park that was dictating the tempo.

Not only was Federico a calming presence on the field, but if we look at these heat maps, you could see that his positioning, mainly on the right-hand side, allowed Lewis Morgan to be the highest attacking player on the pitch:

As Federico dropped deep, he was able to combine nicely with not only Morgan but also his brother.

Gonzalo’s first goal summed it up perfectly:

While the Higuain brothers may receive all the praise, let’s not forget about Brek Shea. The 31-year-old provided Miami with some real athleticism and defensive cover on a left-hand side that’s been sub-par since Robbie Robinson’s injury.

As Robinson continues to make his way back to full fitness, expect Brek to get more starts.

Another great thing to see was the return of Julian Carranza. Although his time on the pitch was short, he had the most important impact.

After coming on in the 77th minute Carranza’s relentless pressing and hold-up play gave Inter Miami a fighting chance after Cincinnati scored the equalizer.

With two center forwards running towards their defense, Cincinnati couldn’t stop Miami in transition. Carranza was making a run into the box which pre-occupied Cincinnati’s backline, which allowed Morgan to slip in a ball to Gonzalo:

As I explained in my last piece, perhaps Miami is better off being a team that hurts opponents in transition.

This begs the question, what happens with Rodolfo Pizarro?

Tactical Turning Point?

After the game during the post-match conference, there were some…interesting comments made by Neville:

As Carranza returns to full fitness he’ll be looking to get more minutes. This will see the younger Higuain drop into midfield.

Neville wants the team to retain the ball better in the middle, all while playing quicker passes.

Compared to Pizarro, Higuain doesn’t mind passing the ball to get his teammates better looks on goal.

The fact that the team’s most talented attacking midfielder is a natural striker is a big indicator that Pizarro could be falling out of favor in South Florida.

With Neville indicating that Gonzalo could start as the “10” with Carranza up top, and Federico Higuain fit enough to potentially go a full 90 minutes, don’t be surprised if the Mexican’s time at Inter Miami ends sooner rather than later.

Inter Miami, Road Warriors

In football, having a home pitch advantage is vital to your success. But for Miami, five games into the season, they’ve gained more points on the road than they have at home:

Realistically, if Miami wants to make a deep run into the playoffs this year, winning on the road is something they’ll have to do. But, if they want to make Drive Pink Stadium, “a fortress,” they need to start protecting their home turf.

Next week against DC United, they have a real opportunity to change that. Getting three points heading into the two-week international break will do wonders for this team’s confidence.

Let’s see how it goes!