Dissecting Inter Miami: vs the LA Galaxy
Miami may have lost on the pitch, but that shouldn't deter you from looking at the positives. Let's dissect.
Photo Credit: Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami kicked off their 2021 campaign with cautious optimism.
The result on the pitch wasn’t what they wanted, but what the team did achieve is a step towards a cohesive playing style.
Though they fell 3-2 to the LA Galaxy, there were plenty of things we can learn from the game.
Coming back from a five-month offseason, it’s understandable that the guys would be a little underprepared fitness-wise.
Phil Neville even said as much:
(Credit to my friend and colleague @AustinRobillard for the quote!)
Although tired legs may have cost the team on the defensive side of things, offensively Miami looked the best they’ve ever been.
The first starting XI under Neville’s reign looked like this:
It was a flexible 4-2-3-1 that allowed Rodolfo Pizarro to roam freely, let Gonzalo Higuain drop deep to help with the build-up, and gave Robbie Robinson the room to take on defenders one v. one should a fast break opportunity occur.
Lewis Morgan stayed high on the right-hand side in case Miami wanted to break quickly. Joevin Jones and Kelvin Leerdam stayed at the halfway line to give the team extra width and a more balanced look:
For the first 45 minutes of the match, Inter Miami dominated the game.
According to WhoScored, by half-time, Miami had nine shots to LA’s one. They had a ton of great interplay which saw the attacking front four get plenty of shooting opportunities.
The bright spot in that half came when Robinson got his first professional goal off a nicely weighted pass from Higuain:
The last 45 minutes, however, did not go in Miami’s favor.
Besides Pizarro winning the penalty in the 67th minute and Higuain converting comfortably, the Herons fatigue started to take a hold of them. The game should’ve been put to bed way before it even got to that point.
Miami may have outshot LA 19-6, but, the difference in conversion rates is staggering:
LA’s 50% to Miami’s 10% tells the entire offensive story.
If Miami converted a handful of their shots, Neville would’ve started out his era with three points. Instead, it’s back to the drawing board as the team prepares to take on the Philadelphia Union on the 24th.
They created plenty of chances, but at the end of the day, they must finish them.
Defensively, there’s still quite a bit of work to do.
For all the good that the team did offensively, Miami’s defense was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the team that afternoon.
Take the game-winning goal Miami conceded, it was a perfect example of missed defensive assignments and heavy legs taking over:
We can pinpoint Miami’s defensive collapse right around when Morgan was subbed out around the 71st minute. Neville was quoted saying that when he made that substitution, he wanted to bring Pizarro over to the left-hand side to give him a bit of ‘rest’ because he was pressing up top the entire game.
When the Mexican was moved, it was evident that his defensive work rate isn’t nearly as consistent as Lewis Morgan’s. From there, LA was able to win the ball back from a miskick from Nico Figal.
If you look closely at the video posted above, number 91 on the Galaxy could’ve been stopped before he got to the byline by Pizarro, but, once again heavy legs were evident by this point.
Not to make excuses for the team, but Inter Miami came off an extended pre-season, where a large majority of their warm-up games against MLS caliber opponents were canceled. The LA Galaxy, on the other hand, participated in a tournament where they had several chances to fine-tune their tactics and get their fitness up to par.
If Miami had a proper pre-season, defensively, they would’ve looked much sharper and less mistake-prone.
As they look ahead to their next match-up against the Philadelphia Union, Miami will need to clean up individual mistakes and convert their chances if they want a result against a very good Philadelphia side.
It will take a while, but from what we can see, the foundation is there.