Inter Miami aren't worried about "big statements" during fast start


Inter Miami CF head coach Phil Neville’s postgame message on Matchday 2 can be boiled down, essentially, to four words: happy but not satisfied.

In various ways, it permeated Neville’s remarks after a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union has them tied with the New England Revolution atop the way-early Eastern Conference standings.

Golazos from Corentin Jean and Robert Taylor were the difference, arriving on Miami’s only shots on target at DRV PNK Stadium. That ruthless efficiency was enough to humble last year’s MLS Cup runner-up just before Jim Curtin's group travels to El Salvador for a Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 first-leg match vs. Alianza FC.

“I think it's too soon to start making big statements,” Neville said about the magnitude of the result. “This is just a continuation of the journey and the build from last year where we do feel like there's a different feeling around this football club.”

Saturday’s result was Miami’s second straight 2-0 home win to start the year, having beaten CF Montréal on MLS is Back weekend.

Summed together, this six-point haul provides a sharp contrast to last year’s new-look group that had to wait until mid-April (or seven games) to reach the same total. It’s a small accomplishment in a long season, but nonetheless an important one.

“What we've done in the first two games this year, we've knocked down a lot of the psychological barriers, not winning in the first couple of weeks of the season [previously],” Neville said. “I think that was hanging over this football club.

“ … I wasn't overly a hundred percent pleased with the performance tonight and I think that's a good thing. And the players know that they need to be better in plays, the players know that they can improve and there's still a long way to go.”

Miami, in the post-Gonzalo Higuaín and Alejandro Pozuelo era, are expected to lean upon goals from standout strikers Josef Martínez and Leonardo Campana. Those moments very well may arrive, but for now it’s a depth-driven approach as the Atlanta United legend gets acclimated and Campana deals with a calf strain.

“There's still, I think, 30% to come from this team,” Neville said. “Wait till Josef starts firing. Wait till Leo comes back and we'll be in good shape.”

Another driving force has been the midfield contributions of Gregore, Jean Mota and Rodolfo Pizarro. The former duo are Miami’s Brazilian version of a “yin and yang” partnership, Neville said, while the manager was full of praise for Pizarro. The Mexican international and Designated Player spent last year out on loan at Liga MX’s CF Monterrey, not previously living up to his big-money transfer expectations.

“We've got Rodolfo and he's playing some of the best football I've seen him play,” Neville said. “… I think when we tell him, you're going to play 90 minutes, I think that gives him massive confidence and he’s running at the end more than any for everybody else. And I think with Rodolfo, I think when he shows that kind of energy, it improves these guys' confidence.”

Up next, Miami hit the road for a Matchday 3 test at New York City FC (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). That’ll be a rematch of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs game they lost in 2022, an Eastern Conference Round One tilt that marked the end of Higuaín’s distinguished career.

“We wanted six points from the two home games,” Neville said. “Now we've got two to go away and produce the same level of commitment.”