EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Inter Miami face D.C. United at 3:50 pm ET Saturday LIVE on Twitter.
Inter Miami CF are just getting started in MLS, and know they must improve if they are to get their first points and their first goal, not to mention meet the lofty expectations for their expansion season.
The ambitious, big-spending newcomers started their inaugural season with a 1-0 loss at LAFC — not a discouraging result at all, given LAFC’s all-conquering form throughout most of 2019 — but at least two of their players acknowledged this week that there's a host of things they need to work on as they head into their second game of the season against D.C. United on Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) and beyond.
“I think [we need to improve] every area,” Inter Miami goalkeeper and captain Luis Robles told reporters at training this week. “For us, this is the very beginning and we’re starting new and [it’s] unrealistic to think that we’re going to be perfect or complete right from the beginning, but if we look at all phases of the game we can improve and that’s something that Diego [Alonso, head coach] has affirmed while also letting us know that he’s proud of what we’ve put on display for the first 90 minutes.”
Saturday’s trip to the nation’s capital will offer Inter Miami a glimpse at a different type of opposition. Whereas LAFC can take teams apart with their pressing and slick passing game, D.C. head coach Ben Olsen is famous for making his teams tough to play against, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of style.
It’s an approach that Robles is well familiar with, given that he regularly faced off against United in his seven-and-a-half seasons playing with their long-time rivals, the New York Red Bulls. However, the veteran goalkeeper noted that the absence of the rivalry element that was so central to his previous meetings with D.C. might make things a little different this time around.
“We played against D.C. a lot and they’re one of the main rivals for [the Red Bulls], so I think our games ended up playing out a little bit differently, just because of of all the side narratives that are involved,” Robles explained. “But with Ben you can expect a team that’s going to fight, that’s going to compete, that’s going to be scrappy and if we’re not ready for the fight, especially in D.C., it puts us in a tough situation, but I think we’ll be fine.
“When you look at some of their players they’ve got a lot of talent, but more than anything when it comes to Benny, it comes to a team that has an engine, that goes for 90 minute and we have to be able to match that right out of the gate.”
While the visitors at Audi Field on Saturday will certainly have to match the intensity of a D.C. United side hungry to turn things around after losing their home opener to the Colorado Rapids, they are also eagerly awaiting the first goal in team history. Both Robles and midfielder Victor Ulloa talked about the importance of being more clinical in the final third going forward, and of the team taking a more attacking mentality as it starts to coalesce. The likely arrival of two more Designated Players will almost certainly aid in that quest, but Ulloa & Co. aren't about to wait around to continue improving in that area of the field.
“Absolutely, it’s the message from Day One,” Ulloa responded when asked if spectators might see a more attacking team going forward. “[Alonso] wants to attack, he wants to score a lot of goals and concede none. That’s the goal and hopefully this week we improve on that offensive phase, in the possession and we get some chances and score some goals.”