Inter Miami CF: Supporters' Shield contender or just a hot start?

Inter Miami CF huddle

Four teams in Major League Soccer have earned maximum points from the first two Matchdays:

  1. Seattle Sounders FC: reigning Concacaf Champions League winners
  2. New England Revolution: set the single-season points record in 2021
  3. St. Louis CITY SC: the league's newest team
  4. Inter Miami CF: quickly eliminated from the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs 

What can we make of the Herons' perfect start to the 2023 season, which includes a 2-0 win over MLS Cup 2022 finalist Philadelphia Union last Saturday?

The folks at Extratime discussed whether Miami’s hot start is sustainable or if it's just two wins, both at home, to start the new campaign.

Kaylyn Kyle isn't ruling out what the Herons have accomplished because Young Designated Player forward Leo Campana has yet to step on the field due to injury (calf) and Josef Martínez is still getting acclimated to his new club after arriving from Atlanta United in the offseason.

She also credited the club’s reworked backline, anchored by a match-winning goalkeeper in Drake Callender, the midfield partnership between Gregore and Jean Mota, and the return of Rodolfo Pizarro from his loan to Liga MX’s CF Monterrey.

And there are those rumors of global icon Lionel Messi possibly coming to South Florida this summer.

“Do I think he’s the best No. 10 in the league? No. Do I think he could be one of the top players in the league? Yes, if his confidence does come back into him,” Kyle said of Pizarro.

“But this team, for me, they’re going under everyone’s radar, I think, because when you think Inter Miami you think David Beckham, you think they should have these big-signing stars. I think that will come, hopefully Messi down the road.”

Matt Doyle, on the other hand, poured cold water on Miami’s hot start because Campana and Martinez (and even Messi if he arrives) aren’t known for their defending, and that could cause stress on the rest of the squad.

“Then it becomes easier to build out against that midfield. Okay, that's kind of a problem, but then you add a No. 10 to that mix, which they don't really have right now but they're trying to have soon, then you have three guys who don't defend. Then you start getting pulled apart a little bit,” Doyle argued.

David Gass said the win over the Union was largely due to a stunning Robert Taylor volley that might be one of the best this season after Corentin Jean scored a goal Gass was surprised three-time Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake gave up.

That said, their six points put them currently atop the Eastern Conference while other perennial powerhouses (see NYCFC) are either working new personnel into the mix or preparing for Concacaf Champions League matches (see Orlando City SC and Philadelphia Union).

“If you're already starting ahead as teams start to solidify or maybe teams don't throughout the season, then you have a shot to contend at the top of the conference,” Gass said. “I think being who they are right now is a step ahead of most other teams.”

So while the Herons' matching 2-0 wins over conference foes are encouraging, Doyle isn’t buying Phil Neville’s side as Supporters’ Shield contenders – not yet at leas

“I feel like it's an overreaction. They should be happy with six points, but this is not a Shield team as currently constructed,” Doyle said. “They don’t have any depth on that backline, they’re not creating chances at a high level. They’re competing like [hell] and they showed last year that they’ll continue to compete like [hell], but we’re I think a year away from this team coalescing into the type that could win trophies.”