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Inter Miami 2021 season preview: Let’s try this again

Inter Miami is looking for a reset on their expansion season.

Photo illustration by Karyim Carreja

Inter Miami came into MLS like the proverbial Kool-Aid Man, announcing their presence with splashy colors and splashy signings in both the front office and on the field. Year 1 did not go as planned. After becoming the first MLS expansion team to open without a win in their first five games, they recovered enough to qualify for the greatly expanded playoffs only to fall to fellow expansion side Nashville SC. They ended up firing their high-priced head coach and cleaning out their front office.

2020 Record: 7-13-3, 10th in the East, eliminated in play-in round by Nashville, 3-0

Head coach: Phil Neville

Key additions: Gregore, Kelvin Leerdam, Joevin Jones, Ryan Shawcross and Kieran Gibbs as a summer acquisition.

Key losses: Ben Sweat, Andres Reyes and Wil Trapp

Projected Best XI

Best offseason move: It has to be Gregore. Miami needed an experienced, but not past their prime midfielder to help keep the glue on the team and be a good defender and solid passer. They get that in Gregore who did his best work as a defensive mid/destroyer type in Brazil for Bahia. With a great engine and a physical bite that Miami was missing, this could be this season’s most impactful move.

Reasons to be worried about Inter Miami: Where to begin? From the four-DP’s controversy already over the squad to hiring an unknown manager in Phil Neville, David Beckham’s heavy involvement has been questioned by fans and media alike. Then come the unfulfilled promises of giant names and international superstars, which have failed to materialize. Now, on field it remains a mystery to how Neville will line this team up and his perceived tactical naivety was evident when he was head coach of the England Women’s national team. So, it does not help that Neville was seemingly gifted this job by good friend and owner David Beckham. Since their debut, Miami has had a considerable amount of questions and very few answers. The front office and coaching staff will be hard pressed to answer those with a good start to the season.

Why Inter Miami are worth watching: It starts up top with Gonzalo Higuain and Rodolfo Pizarro. Miami has two proven players who should link up much better than last season with a full offseason to work together under their belts. Both players have proved they can play and now with time and some familiarity need to prove they can do it in MLS week in and week out. Add two fun and young wingers coming in to their own in Matias Pellegrini and Lewis Morgan and a top 5 attacking fullback in Leerdam and this team on the field could be a lot of fun. Of course all this will depend on how Neville structures the team and that’s another reason they will be worth watching. Can Neville manage this eccentric group of players or will his tactical setup be one upped by the many great managers all around the league?