Randall Leal couldn’t find the back of the net last time out against Miami. Photo courtesy Nashville SC.
It’s been three months since Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF met at Nissan Stadium. Tomorrow, they’ll renew the rivalry at DRV PNK Stadium. I caught up with Deporte Total‘s Andrea Yanez for the scoop on the Herons.
Tim Sullivan: Obviously the year started with some off-field controversy. Was the DP-surplus investigation a distraction for the team that affected their play? If so, have they rebounded with that in the rearview mirror?
Andrea Yanez: According to Phil Neville, no, it didn’t. But later on Blaise Matuidi admitted that it was a difficult situation to handle both on the field and out. At the moment it is no longer a factor.
TS: Lewis Morgan may have been one of the most underrated players in the league last year (particularly in comparison to his big-name teammates). Has he remained a key for IMCF?
AY: Not as much. He is a blue collar player and runs for every single ball but he has failed to connect with his teammates like last year.
TS: What have been the biggest differences in approach under Phil Neville versus last year’s staff (whether tactics, man-management, or something else)?
AY: I think the biggest difference is Lewis Morgan, he is not having an impact this year like what we saw under Diego Alonso. Phil obviously has a different style tactically and is currently struggling with the collective effort.
TS: After disappointing early in his time with the club, it feels like Gonzalo Higuaín has really rounded into form. What has allowed him to start progressing toward the type of player Miami was expecting (and that he’s historically been)?
AY: Well, I think he is still not where they want him to be. He is still struggling with his fitness and again, is missing the connection with key players like Rodolfo Pizarro. He has good stats but that hasn’t been enough for the team to have good results consistently. Therefore, he needs to find a way to make his team better.
TS: IMCF has struggled at home as much as pretty much anyone who’s actually in their home stadium (i.e. giving the Canadian teams a pass here). Has that just come to luck? Has the team just not been comfortable at DRV PNK?
AY: I think that some of the players are not ready for the playing conditions in South Florida. Examples: Pipita is not fit, Gibbs and Shawcross have struggled physically, same as Pizarro. And overall it is not about playing home or on the road, it is about the other team outperforming Miami.
TS: Do you have any specific expectations or predictions for the game (including a final score if you’re comfortable giving one)?
AY: Miami is looking better in the last three games but those are baby steps. If they are able to keep a clean sheet in the first half, they are capable of winning the game. Coming from behind is a tough task for this team (they did it against Montreal).
I will predict a 1-1 draw.
Many, many thanks to Andrea for her expertise. Fore coverage on IMCF – and many other South Florida teams, bastante en español, and some dog photos – check her out on Twitter, and read her work on Deporte Total USA.