Why Inter Miami Needs to Go Back to the Drawing Board
By Space Coast Daily // April 14, 2022
There was great excitement among Florida soccer fans when the formation of Inter Miami was announced. The MLS expansion team, backed by English soccer star David Beckham, gave the city its first representative in elite soccer since Miami Fusion folded in 2001.
The involvement of one of the sport’s biggest stars and other celebrity connections gave the impression of a project destined for success. However, a debut defeat to LAFC hinted at tough times ahead.
Worldwide Debut.#InterMiamiCF vs. @LAFC
March 1, 2020
🌎- https://t.co/6T3Xivtteq pic.twitter.com/vMVB3n1nR6
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) December 5, 2019
The Worst Team in MLS
Everything was carefully crafted from the name to the branding, but things did not go to plan from day one. Now, partway through their third full season, it is fair to describe Inter Miami as the worst team in the MLS. While Florida sports betting hasn’t been given the green light yet, bettors in other states may have been convinced to back them as potential trophy winners before the season started.
However, the team has quickly shifted to being +20000 MLS Cup outsiders. In contrast, Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), which entered the league just two years before Inter Miami, are +600 favorites to win he MLS Cup this year. Meanwhile, 2021 newcomers Austin FC opened their second season with 11 points from the first six games and are playoff contenders.
After six games of the 2022 campaign, Miami had recorded just one win (against fellow strugglers New England Revolution) and scored just six goals, while conceding 15. Prior to the win over Revolution, they had the worst points tally of any team in the league and had only scored once from open play, with two penalties making up their haul.
A hat-trick from Ecuadorian up-and-comer Leonardo Campana in that victory put some gloss on the issues facing the club. All this, after an off-season overhaul of the squad that was intended to turn things around. So, where did it all go wrong?
There was a lot of optimism before the season with 17 players moving on to make way for fresh faces. Beckham stated the need for stability suggesting he would stick by coach Phil Neville and sporting director Chris Henderson, but there is a feeling that Neville could be part of the problem and that Beckham’s stubbornness in sticking by his pal could hold the club back.
Neville’s only previous high-level managerial experience came as head coach of the England women’s national team. There, he was accused of arrogance not befitting his results, and an uninspiring style of play. The team was ranked No. 3 in the world when he took over but had fallen to sixth by the time he left. There is little to suggest that he can turn things around in Miami even if he was afforded the time.
No Cakewalk for Higuain
The finger could also be pointed at former Real Madrid, Juventus, and Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain. The striker was made club captain and was expected to lead by example in a league where top European players often excel due to the perceived lower standard.
However, the Argentine has admitted he found the physical demands of the MLS much tougher than expected. At the age of 34, he has struggled to maintain the fitness levels required. The fact he was absent for their first win of the season says a lot.
Inter Miami gets first win of season on historic Campana hat trick, Higuain misses game https://t.co/8KQQABg6ix
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) April 9, 2022
Higuain is expected to leave at the end of the current season and Neville could also be replaced if results do not improve soon. He has admitted to being under pressure for the last 12 months, yet he has remained on the job.
His close friendship with Beckham may have brought him some time but the patience of key stakeholders at the club can only last so long. Both men were brought in with good intentions but neither is leading the club in the right direction.