Inter Miami: How can they improve going into the 2021 season?

Inter Miami. Mandatory Credit: Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports
Inter Miami. Mandatory Credit: Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports /

After an underwhelming 2020 season, where does Inter Miami go from here?

Once filled with hope and ambition, Inter Miami‘s inaugural season was a disappointment, to say the least. A historically bad start left the South Florida club behind on their pre-season expectations. With the promise of making the playoffs, trophies in their first year, and star Designated Players, only one of those three have come to fruition.

Sunday night’s loss against Toronto was the culmination of the issues that Inter Miami has been facing this season. A penalty given away in the 81st minute saw La Rosa Negra once again give up a late goal despite scoring first.

It’s been a reoccurring issue for Diego Alonso‘s men: score first, then conceded late into matches. If Inter Miami wants the 2021 season to look vastly different from their first, various problems on and perhaps off the pitch will need to be solved.

Upgrades in certain spots are needed

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Under Diego Alonso, Inter Miami has played a style that consists of high pressing, playing wide, and getting crosses into the box. Although the intentions are good, the personnel does not fit Alonso’s intentions.

Starting on Miami’s right-wing is 24-year old Lewis Morgan.

The Scotland international has been Inter Miami’s best player this season, but also the team’s only real attacking threat. As the team’s highest scorer, his five goals and four assists have been integral to Miami making a late playoff run, however, for all the good that Morgan brings, he can’t do it every game.

As of now, Inter Miami has no true back up right-winger to replace the former Celtic man in case he gets injured or suspended for a game. This is a need that Miami will need to address in the offseason. Morgan’s importance to Diego Alonso’s attacking structure cannot be understated; without him, Miami would not be fighting for a playoff spot.

Another area that needs to be upgraded is the left-hand side of Miami’s formation. While Brek Shea and Matias Pellegrini have been able to do a serviceable job, it’s clear that a true out and out winger who can take on defenders, and beat his man one vs one is needed. Alongside left-back Ben Sweat, who is prone to defensive mistakes, Miami’s left-hand side has been consistently rather poor in comparison to the right side. If Inter Miami wants a better second season, a major offseason revamp is a must.

Pellegrini downgraded?

Speaking of Matias Pellegrini, there are serious questions about his status as a Designated Player. Yes, he’s still young, but compared to other young DPs across the league, the 20-year-old’s offensive output is inadequate given his high price tag.

So far in his first MLS season, Pellegrini has only scored one goal and assisted once in 748 minutes of playing time. Even when he does get playing time, his impact on the game is minimal, it could be time to downgrade his status as a Designated Player.

If Inter Miami’s front office decides to do so, there are plenty of options that are available to upgrade that left-wing spot. Back in September, there were some rumors that Dutch international Steven Berghuis could make the switch from the Netherlands to South Florida. Of course, with any rumor linking a player to Inter Miami, the validity of the report is always questionable. But, if Miami is serious about having a better second season, perhaps downgrading Pellegrini is the first step of righting the ship.

Maybe a new manager is on the horizon?

Naturally, when the team isn’t doing well, many people tend to blame the players. While players do share some of the blame, they can only do so much when the manager isn’t putting them into the best positions to succeed.

Take the newest Designated Player signing Gonzalo Higuain. Throughout his career, the former Argentina international was known for his ability to drop deep, collect the ball, and distribute to his teammates. Under Diego Alonso, his skill set isn’t being used to the best of its capacity.

Inter Miami plays a very wide style that involves crossing into the box with the hope of a player getting on the end of it. With the players that are currently on Inter Miami’s roster, not a single attacking player is known for his heading ability – including Higuain.

Some may argue that six foot three Brek Shea could be that aerial threat, but the 30-year-old shaggy-haired winger is injured far too often to make a real impact on the pitch.

It’s up to Diego Alonso to switch up the attacking style in order to get the players he has at his disposal in their best positions. Unfortunately, although he’s tried numerous formation like a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, and even a 3-4-2-1, nothing has appeared to click. Miami still does not look very cohesive and they struggle to string passes together in the final third.

Compared to their fellow expansion partners Nashville who have done a very impressive job their first season, Miami looks devoid of ideas going forward and very confused at the back. Even as the season draws to a close, Alonso is still tinkering with his formations as if it were week 5.

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There are times on the field where Miami looks like 11 individuals instead of a cohesive unit. If the same results continue into next season, it may be time for Inter Miami’s front office to look elsewhere for a manager. 2021 will be a big year for Miami. If they upgrade on several spots, and Diego Alonso finds a tactical system that works, 2020 may long be forgotten.