The LA Galaxy will kick off their 26th season on Sunday with a first-ever meeting against Inter Miami in South Florida. Inter Miami were a pretty inconsistent team in 2020, but don’t worry too much about that, because they made a slew of changes in the offseason. To get you ready for the game, we talk to Inter Miami fan Saul Garcia, who also contributes to SB Nation’s Manchester City site Bitter and Blue. Many thanks to Saul for taking the time to answer my questions!
1. Inter Miami made the playoffs last season, but changed coaches in the offseason. What are the feelings surrounding the appointment of Phil Neville so far, and what do you expect he’ll bring to the team this season?
The sentiment I get around Neville’s appointment is cautious optimism. He is a manager who tried to play fun soccer when he was in charge of England’s Women’s National team and if he can get the same level of buy-in, Miami could be in business to have a much better 2021. His style has been that of a more traditional side with two holding mids, two wingers, a ‘10’ and a striker. In Miami he will have the pieces to execute that with his penchant for possession based and buildup soccer. If his ideas hit and players buy in, the team can improve dramatically quickly.
2. It sounds like there’s quite a mess in terms of the Designated Player situation for Miami, but before we get to that, what important roster moves did they make ahead of the season? Any players we should watch out for in Sunday’s game?
They did address perhaps their biggest need, a holding midfielder. Blaise Matuidi needed a more physical partner and Miami got him one in Gregore from Bahia in Brazil. Gregore should improve that side immensely with presence, aggressiveness and stability. They also added some English players in Ryan Shawcross and Kieran Gibbs, though Shawcross should not be a huge factor in the side and Gibbs will arrive in the summer. Players to watch out for are definitely Gonzalo Higuain and Rodolfo Pizarro. Now with a full offseason to get familiar they should have better chemistry. Lewis Morgan also came into his own and has been a solid to great winger since arriving from Celtic in Scotland.
3. And about the DP situation, it sounds like Inter Miami have 4 of them and can only have 3. What do you think is going to happen there, and is it the right solution?
The designated player situation has been a huge mess. Accusations of all sorts have been made and it has been lingering over the club for a couple months now. In the end, I think Matias Pellegrini will be the sacrificial lamb and be offloaded more than likely by way of intra-league loan. This is probably the right solution, given Pellegrini’s wages are the easiest to unload and with a loan could be subsidized. The other three are more experienced and in positions of importance which paired with high wages make Pellegrini the odd man out. With that said, the three DP’s will need to perform much better than last season for this club to make the playoffs.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.