Dissecting Inter Miami: vs the Philadelphia Union
A tale of two halves. Dos Higuain's. Let's dissect this crazy night. Plus a quick Nashville preview.
photo credit: Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami’s game against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday was a landmark win for the club.
After struggling in their first year and an off-season revamp, getting three points against a very good Union side was a fitting introduction to Phil Neville’s era in South Florida.
The game wasn’t pretty, but the Herons got the job done.
Going into this game, Inter Miami wanted to wash out the sour taste they had in their mouth from a disappointing loss against the LA Galaxy. Before the match, Neville spoke about how difficult it would be to get a result against the reigning Supporters Shield holders, stating:
While Inter Miami didn’t play their best football, they showed the heart and courage to be able to grind out a win against a tough opponent.
Neville sent out his starting XI like this:
The lineup was consistent and largely unchanged.
For the first 45 minutes, Miami was able to hold its own.
The Union had a total of five shots compared to Miami’s one. Robbie Robinson (who is settling into his left-wing role quite nicely) had a strike smack off the woodwork which was the team’s only real threat in the first half.
However, possession was not nearly as lopsided as it was against the Galaxy. Miami had 47.3% of the ball compared to the Union’s 52.7%.
The second half is where Inter Miami showed their mettle.
Due to a slight injury, Robinson was forced off at halftime, Jay Chapman came in to replace him. Chapman isn’t a natural winger, so it was questionable as to why Neville brought him on.
But, as the game started to expand and Philadelphia’s midfield began to get a bit stretched, it was clear why Neville made the substitutions he did. He wanted to flood the midfield with as many players possible, then use Lewis Morgan as an outlet should a fast break opportunity occur:
As you can see from the heatmap, Morgan was spent most of the game hugging the touchline, playing off the shoulder of his defender.
After the Robinson sub, the Englishman brought on Federico Higuain for Rodolfo Pizarro in the 61st minute.
Federico is much more of a creative presence in the midfield compared to Pizarro. While Pizarro can play as a true “10,” Federico is definitely more of a “pass-first” type of player.
His quality showed almost immediately.
10 minutes after his coming on to the pitch, Federico showed his brother Gonzalo some love and tied up the game through a well-place free kick:
Miami was able to continue that momentum and get the game-winner in the 83rd minute:
Neville learned from his mistakes against the Galaxy and was more proactive with his subs. His tactical tweaking and forward-thinking helped Miami gain three points off one of the best teams in the league.
The biggest one the pitch storyline from this game was the defense. Often known for making mistakes and lapses in concentration, Miami’s defensive core held up against a strong attacking line from Philadelphia.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Nico Figal had an excellent game.
Gonzalez Pirez had seven recoveries, three interceptions, and nine clearances.
Figal played lights out.
The 27-year-old had six recoveries, three interceptions, and five clearances. He also created three chances and had the game-winning assist.
In the midfield, Gregore and Matuidi once again showed that they’re settling in nicely together.
The Brazilian was the team’s anchor, holding it down while also showing some attacking flair. He completed the most dribbles in the match with four and had seven recoveries and two interceptions.
Matuidi is quietly showing why he deserves to be a Designated Player. The Frenchman completed 93% of his passes, created one chance, and won four of his duels.
The double-pivot in Neville’s midfield is starting to look like a solid pairing.
Quick Nashville Preview:
Going into the Nashville game tomorrow, the club will be a bit short-handed. They’ll possibly be without Pizarro, Robinson, both of the Higuain brothers, and Julian Carranza:
Also, don’t be shocked to see Ryan Shawcross get the start. Neville did mention that he could see some game time sooner rather than later.
With Figal showing his quality as a right-back during the Union game, and Nashville’s starting center forward Jhonder Cadiz being a physical presence in the box, Shawcross’s height and strength could be used to neutralize that threat:
It will certainly be a difficult game, but if Miami plays with the same heart and determination that they did against Philadelphia, anything is possible.