Midweek MLS is a helluva drug. Sometimes you get snoozers, and sometimes…
We do it all over again Thursday night! Who can I interest in an ESPN doubleheader? Tune in at 7:30 pm ET for Orlando City-Philadelphia Union and keep it locked in the same place for Austin FC-Seattle Sounders at 9:30 pm ET.
In the meantime, here’s one big thought on Inter Miami and a bunch of small ones from Wednesday’s night’s 10-game slate.
Welcome to the bottom, Inter Miami.
Even the chaos that unfolded up the road in Atlanta in recent weeks can’t save you from the negative headlines now. The Wooden Spoon resides in South Florida, and the only thing that can keep this squad from taking more Ls is biblical weather in the Harrison, New Jersey area.
The Revolution are a very good and sometimes explosive team, but a 5-0 loss at home – and it could have been/should have been much, much worse – is embarrassing for Phil Neville and his players. That’s now six straight losses, which is obviously bad, with 13 goals allowed and just one scored for Miami, which is somehow even worse. The situation is truly dire.
In case you didn’t see the highlights or just need it spelled out for you, here’s how Inter Miami handed a nickel to the Revs…
- Basic failure to mark a back-post runner on a set piece.
- Bad giveaway by Blaise Matuidi, who never recovers, and zero-intensity, ho-hum-shrug, “Oh, I guess they scored” defending from the rest of the team.
- Failure to clear a corner kick despite multiple opportunities, another basic set-piece failure.
- The whole team gets sucked into watching Carles Gil on the endline – like bugs staring into a porch light – and Adam Buksa, unmarked at the back post, is the zapper.
- Poor transition defense, Ryan Shawcross stuck 1-v-1 in the open field. You know what happens next.
That’s rough reading. This quote from Neville in the lead-up to the match reads even worse given the result: “There is no margin for error. No excuses. It’s now or never for this team.”
Sooooooo, never then?
I’ll remind you, because maybe you’ve forgotten amid the results and near-constant change, that this Inter Miami team is built to win now. That was true in January 2020. It was true in January 2021. It’s true today. They spent big to win, and the lineup Neville rolled out Wednesday night was first-choice, thanks to Rodolfo Pizarro sticking around for an extra day before joining up with Mexico as a Gold Cup replacement.
There were, in Neville’s words, no excuses. And yet…
“I’ve said the word unacceptable in the past,” he said after the loss. “This feels worse than that.”
Well, what’s worse than that? I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. Neville went on to say what you’d expect from a manager whose team responded to a desperate, make-or-break moment in their season by laying down and taking a beating in front of their supporters.
- “We lost all concentration, togetherness, spirit and our heads, really.”
- “The thing that really surprised me was that I wasn’t expecting it. From the feeling that I had for the last 10 days, I wasn’t expecting it. The players need to take a long, long look at themselves, and so do I.”
- “Ultimately, it is my job to make this team better. At this moment in time, they are not.”
- “These results aren’t good enough. I know the consequences.”
- “[New England] are a team, and that’s what we must become. That’s what this football club must have. It must have a team. It must have a team that represents the badge. … That’s all I’m asking for, a team that will fight for each other. A team that will look around the dressing room and trust and believe in each other and fight for each other, almost like a brotherhood.”
- “It's the lowest in terms of my feelings after a defeat that I've had since I came to this football club — and we've had some disappointments."
Read between the lines of that final quote. Heck, just watch the games. This is not a “team” the way Neville (or any of us, really) defines “team.” That’s on Neville, which he readily acknowledged, and it’s certainly on this group of players as well. At this point, it’s on the entire club from top to bottom.
What Inter Miami have built isn’t working right now. Their 0.67 points per game and minus-13 goal differential are both dead last in the league.
Is the roster destined to be deconstructed? Will Pizarro leave amid transfer rumors and a downturn in playing time? Will the changes be even more drastic? Can Inter Miami manage the bare minimum against the Union on Sunday? Can they simply compete?
They’re all very real and serious questions right now.
Other quick thoughts/nuggets/tweets I found interesting
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago Fire! Watch as the Fire turn a 2-0 win into a 2-2 draw in five minutes flat! Yes, they shot themselves in the foot with individual mistakes yet again.
Ralph Priso has a big future, and I’m mostly not talking about the goal. Priso said he showed his “real level” after he scored the goal. That level can take over games in the midfield, as the Toronto FC homegrown did at times against the Red Bulls. It’s still early for the 18-year-old, but he’s got something special.
Sporting KC’s resilience is impressive, but I’d guess Peter Vermes would prefer that trend – that is, falling behind only to claw back – comes to an end. Vermes would rather his team be in control and dominant, which they are in spurts and most often with Alan Pulido in the lineup. Two more games until their DP No. 9 is back!
I spent almost 800 words on Inter Miami, and it’d be unfair if I didn’t at least mention that FC Dallas have lost three straight and are bottom of the Western Conference standings. The good news is that they’re undefeated at home. The bad news is that includes just two wins alongside five draws, while all seven road games have been losses.
Here’s the score in xG: LAFC 1.8 – Portland Timbers 0.6. That’s gotta be disappointing for Bob Bradley, but we saw at least a glimpse of 2019 LAFC on that Carlos Vela goal. There are more and more of those moments popping up recently.
For the Timbers, the result speaks for itself. For the rest of us, the true joy comes from seeing Sebastian Blanco back to looking somewhat like his old self.