Inter Miami CF are heading home from the MLS is Back Tournament still looking for their first points as an expansion team, but the team's poor run of form has not shaken head coach Diego Alonso's faith in the project he is undertaking.
Speaking to media following Miami's 1-0 loss to New York City FC on Monday morning, which left them with no points to show in games against three Eastern Conference competitors, Alonso acknowledged that his side hadn't been at their best in the defeat, but argued that their overall body of work over the last two weeks merited more.
“I think that soccer in these five games has been unjust with us,” Alonso said. “We got a lot less than what we deserve. I feel that in today’s game we didn’t play as well as in the last game against Philadelphia but the team deserves more and has little [to show for it].”
Both Miami and NYCFC labored in the morning heat, but ultimately a moment of individual quality from NYCFC's Ismael Tajouri-Shradi proved the difference in a game that saw very little in the way of clear chances for either side.
The close-fought affair is nothing new for Miami — they lost all three of their games in the MLS Back is Tournament, and in fact all five of their games in the 2020 season, by one goal. They've conceded more than one goal on just two occasions this season, both after having taking the lead. The signs point to a team that can hold its own, but just needs a little more cohesion and quality to finally get a result.
“All we can do is to continue to work,” Alonso said. “I don’t regret being the coach of these players. More than ever I’m with them. I’m convinced we’ll get out of this together, believing in them, trusting them, raising morale and trying in the next weeks to improve so that soccer can give us the reward that we deserve.”
Though the Uruguayan head coach, who arrived to take the reins of the expansion team after a sterling career in Liga MX with Pachuca and Monterrey reiterated his faith in the players he came to the tournament with, he acknowledged that the coming weeks would entail plenty of hard work to improve — and possibly a few new signings.
“We feel we have less than what we deserve, but we also need to do more to deserve,” he said. “What we need to do — we know that we have at least four weeks of work planned ahead of the start of the regular season, which is what we hope. And in these four weeks we’ll try to adjust details and [new] players could come through to help us improve the team. With the players who are here and ones who may arrive we can try to get better and reach the objectives we want to achieve: which is to reach the playoffs and fight for the championship.”
Though Alonso clearly has a vision of what the next few weeks will look like, he admitted that Miami's slow start was uncharted waters for him, a sentiment shared by captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles, a former fixture in New York Red Bulls teams that regularly made the playoffs in his tenure at the club. Still, Robles isn't about to allow the recent run of poor results get his colleagues down.
“I think as a leader it’s really important that you don’t become discouraged,” said Robles. “Because disappointments happen in life but discouragement is a mindset. And as the leader of this team I’m not going to allow this team to choose that mindset.
“We know that we’re in a difficult place right now but the only thing we can do is stick together and commit to the process, continue to believe in one another, work hard, demand more from one each other and focus on the process and don’t get too fixated on the results. If we can do this, then we’ll turn this around.”