Inter Miami: Defense comes up big in draw to Atlanta United

Inter Miami (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Inter Miami (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Inter Miami pick up their first points on the road with a draw to Atlanta United

With both sides looking to bounce back after disappointing results last week, Inter Miami and Atlanta United played to a goalless 0-0 draw on Tuesday night. The game was a bit of a slugfest – it was chippy, foul riddled, and lacked real quality in the final third. Atlanta looked a shell of their former selves.

With reports indicating that Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez could be on his way out and the lack of a true goal threat up top due to Josef Martinez’s long term injury, the Five Stripes struggled to create and finish chances.

The lack of finishing chances appeared to be the theme of the night as Inter Miami outshot Atlanta 10- 5 yet still didn’t register a goal. As both teams look to put this result behind them, what are the three key takeaways from this game?

Lack of finishing is starting to catch up to Inter Miami

Although they comfortably outshot Atlanta 10 – 5, Inter Miami failed to convert any of their chances. This is starting to be a reoccurring theme for Inter Miami and tonight was evident that a proven goalscorer is more needed than ever. La Rosa Negra battled hard and managed to keep a clean sheet but with multiple misses in the final third, that proved to be the difference between going home with a point vs three.

Juan Agudelo, while being an experienced MLS veteran, did a decent job as the team’s number 9, but his lack of conviction in the final third and positional fluidity made it difficult for Miami’s creative players like Lewis Morgan and Rodolfo Pizarro to get proper through balls in the box.

This picked up, however, in the 73rd minute when Robbie Robinson entered the game. The 21-year-old gave Miami a true “target man” to aim for and gave players like Pizarro and Morgan and bit more room to operate on the ball. With rumors that Gonzalo Higuain could be joining the club on a two-year deal, the need for a striker is crucial if Inter Miami wants to start winning their games.

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Jay Chapman and Victor Ulloa worked

After all the debates and discussions about Inter Miami’s central midfield, Wil Trapp was benched in favor of Canadian international Jay Chapman.

Because the midfield pairing of Victor Ulloa and Trapp wasn’t producing the desired results, Diego Alonso turned to Chapman to provide a bit of sharpness and dynamic pressing through the middle.

While they didn’t dominate the match, they kept the team’s shape, screening the back four while also getting forward to provide some attacking help. Ulloa finished the game completing 95% of his passes and created 3 chances, while Chapman created a chance and ended the match completing 91% passes.

The midfield did improve and it’s only going to get better with the addition of Blaise Matuidi. According to the Miami Herald, the French international could make his debut as early as next week. With his inclusion, Miami will have a true ball-winner that can keep the game’s tempo high just as Diego Alonso intends.

Inter Miami’s Backline finally keeps a clean sheet

Perhaps the most impressive feat from Inter Miami during this game was the backline keeping a clean sheet. Against Atlanta, Miami’s back four stayed rock steady, with the center back pairing of Andres Reyes and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez having a combined 6 interceptions. The standout performer among them was Ben Sweat who, despite having questions surrounding his ability trackback, did well against Atlanta’s right-hand side.

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The backline did well to deny Atlanta’s danger men and space in the final third, limiting them to just one shot on target. This defensive display is something to build on for Inter Miami and if the South Florida club is to make the playoffs, defensive performances like this are something to continue.