April 14, 2024

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Inter Miami last in MLS standings before Lionel Messi debut: What’s next?

Inter Miami last in MLS standings before Lionel Messi debut: What’s next?

With another loss, Inter Miami is now winless in 11 games and sitting bottom of the league with 18 points from 22 games. Miami is 12 points short of the playoff streak with only 12 games remaining. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lionel Messi will be available for selection for the first time against Cruz Azul of Liga MX in the opening match of the League Cup on July 21.
  • If Messi’s first season has postseason action, Miami will likely need to pick up at least 24 points in their last 12 games, at 2 points per game.
  • Only one team in MLS has averaged more than 2 points per game this season (Cincinnati’s leading Supporters’ Shield team).

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What does this mean for miami

The situation is dire, but not without explanation. Miami reserved valuable roster resources for summer extras hoping Messi (and his friends) would join, so that hampered them a bit in the first 22 games of the season. They saw early and possibly long-term injuries to their two irreplaceable players, midfielders Gregor and Jean Motta. Gregor, the team’s captain, has played only three matches this season, and Motta only nine.

Reinforcements are on the way. In addition to Messi, Sergio Busquets will also appear soon. It is likely that Jordi Alba will follow him, while Miami is active in adding young talents, as club reports linked young players Facundo Farias and Diego Gomez.

Messi and his friends cut out their work for them.

Tata Martino’s first match

New manager Tata Martino took over in his first game as coach of Inter Miami. He chose 4-2-3-1. Expect more of the same when those reinforcements arrive.

Messi is clearly in the 10th position, as he will be able to drift and have a free turn to influence the game. One of Joseph Martinez (who started on Saturday) or Leo Campana will be the center forward.

Miami had a 64 percent, which is part of the spirit of Martino but also because of the game. St. Louis would prefer a high-pressure transitional system in which they would simply relinquish ownership of real estate. St. Louis also had a 2-0 lead before halftime, so Miami had been chasing the game from then on, thus dominating possession.

What then?

Miami will not play another MLS game until Aug. 20, as the MLS rests for the League Cup. Their first match in that tournament will be on Friday against Cruz Azul, where Messi is expected to make his debut.

They have at least two games (in the group stage) to start storming the new players. If they are eliminated from the group (one from Miami, Atlanta United or Cruz Azul will be eliminated after the group stage), they will have almost a month between matches.

Miami will continue to work on revamping the squad, with Alba being a potential big name signing as well as youngsters Farias and Gomez as potential additions. The latter two will join via the U-22 initiative, leaving another U-22 slot open.

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Gregor may return slightly earlier than expected in August, rather than the September initially expected. Mota wouldn’t be too far behind him. The starting XI with Gregor and Motta behind Messi is among the strongest in the league.

Miami qualified for the semifinals in the US Open Cup, going into the final in a four-game match against FC Cincinnati on August 23. Two wins would give Miami the trophy in Messi’s debut season.

If Messi is going to play MLS playoff soccer and succeed in knockout tournaments, they will have to click right away because Miami needs to pick up points quickly.

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(Photo: Hernan Cortez/Getty Images)