The Inter Miami last in MLS standings ahead of Lionel Messi debut: What’s next?
With another defeat, Inter Miami are now winless in 11 matches and sit bottom of the league with 18 points from 22 matches. Miami is 12 points below the playoff line with just 12 games remaining. Here’s what you need to know:
Lionel Messi will first be available for selection in the Liga MX opener against Cruz Azul on July 21.
If Messi has postseason action in his debut season, Miami needs to pick up at least 24 points in their last 12 games, an average of two points per game.
Only one team in MLS has averaged more than two points per game this season (Supporters Shield-leading FC Cincinnati).
What this means for Miami
The situation is grim, but not without explanation. Miami stockpiled valuable summer additions in hopes Messi (and friends) would join, so they were somewhat hampered for the first 22 games of the season. They saw perhaps untimely, long-term injuries to two of their most irreplaceable players, central midfielders Gregor and Jean Mota. Team captain Gregor has played just three games this season and only nine.
Reinforcements are on the way. Apart from Messi, Sergio Busquets will also make his debut soon. Jordi Alba is likely to follow, while Miami is active in adding young talent, with reports linking the club with young players Facundo Farias and Diego Gomez.
Messi and friends have their work cut out for them.
Tata Martino’s first match
New manager Tata Martino took over in his first match as Inter Miami’s manager. He opted for a 4-2-3-1. Expect more of the same when those reinforcements arrive.
Messi, obviously, slots in at number 10, where he will be able to flow and have a freer role to influence the game. One of Joseph Martinez (who started on Saturday) or Leo Campana’s will be at center forward.
Miami had 64 percent possession, which was part of Martino’s policy but partly due to the matchup. The City of St. Louis prefers a transition, high-pressing system where they are content to let go of real estate. St. Louis also went up 2-0 before halftime so Miami was chasing the game from there, thus controlling possession.
Miami will not play another MLS game until August 20, as MLS takes a break to participate in the League Cup Their first game in that tournament is 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 breaking in new players. If they are eliminated in the group (eliminated after a group stage between Miami, Atlanta United or Cruz Azul), they will have about a month off between matches.
Miami will continue to work on rebuilding the squad, with Alba as a big-name potential signing as well as youngsters Farias and Gomez as two potential additions. The latter two will join through the U-22 initiative, leaving one more U-22 slot open.
Gregor may return in August a little earlier than expected in September. Mota will not be behind him. A starting XI with Gregor and Mota behind Messi is one of the strongest in the league.
Miami has their final-four match on August 23 against US Open Cup semi-finalists, FC Cincinnati. Two wins would give Miami a trophy in Messi’s debut season.
If Messi succeeds in playing playoff soccer in MLS and in the knockout tournaments, they need to click immediately as Miami needs to pick up points quickly.