Thursday, April 18, 2024
spot_img

Inter Miami MLS season preview: Can Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez lead the Herons to glory?

At the last possible moment, Inter Miami were able to get roster compliant due to the sale of Gregore and the contract buyout of Corentin Jean but depth issues remain for the side as their MLS season gets underway, even considering the potential arrival of Federico Redondo from Argentinos Juniors. At a minimum, the Herons will be taking part in Concacaf Champions Cup, the Leagues Cup, and league play balancing the health of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba with the required quality to compete on all fronts.

The biggest question facing Tata Martino is the Herons can make the attack tick when Messi is off the pitch. In all competitions last season, Messi scored 11 goals and assisted five more in only 14 games, but when he struggled with an injury that caused him to miss four of the final six matches of the season, Miami’s attack stagnated. Facundo Farias and Leonardo Campana weren’t able to handle things on their own and now Farias out and will miss the entire season due to an ACL injury. 

Adding Julian Gressel into the mix alongside Robert Taylor will help provide service from wide positions but while Suarez’s goalscoring is one of the key things that he’s looked upon for, his creativity at 37 will also be critical to the Herons. At Gremio in Brazil, Suarez was involved in 28 goals, scoring 17 and assisting 11 more. That assist mark would’ve been almost double the number of league assists for any member of the squad outside of Taylor. If Suarez’s knees can hold up to bring that creativity when Messi is away at Copa America or resting, the ceiling of the Miami squad rises significantly.

What can Miami win?

With so many competitions, it’s in Miami’s best interests to focus on the shortest ones that they’re involved in, to make sure that the season is s success while not needing to factor things like rest into the equation. They’ve already qualified directly for the last 16 of Champions Cup due to lifting the Leagues Cup last season, so the Herons only need to win four matches to lift a trophy. 

The MLS season is a grueling time filled with travel and even their Leagues Cup group includes Tigres making it just as hard to advance from as it would be to win the Champions Cup. This isn’t to say that Miami can’t win multiple trophies because they most certainly can, but winning one is better than none so put your eggs into winning four matches and figure out the rest later.

Who will be the team MVP excluding Messi?

I’ve already made a case for Suarez and I’m going to double down here. Last season, when Messi wasn’t on the pitch Miami looked lost in making attacks happen. Even Campana who was someone that the Herons have played through in the past, seemed helpless out there without the Argentine. Martino is likely aware of this and Suarez can help provide that outlet. It’s easy for a team to get starstruck by the gravitational pull of Messi and then feel lost without him, but now boasting two legends in the attack while young players gain experience should help.

How many games will Messi miss this season?

At a minimum, Messi will miss 5-6 matches while away on Copa America duty with Argentina and with MLS playing during standard FIFA international breaks, that number will easily rise to 10 matches without even taking into account Martino managing Messi’s minutes. This is why figuring out what to do when Messi isn’t on the pitch will be critical. Other key midfielders like Diego Gomez will also have similar international commitments so Maimi will need to get used to playing without their talisman quickly.

Who is the best young player on the team?

Currently, it’s between Diego Gomez and Benjamin Cremaschi. The young American had four assists and two goals in MLS last season, but he will begin this season injured after undergoing surgery for a hernia. This duo will be important to Miami’s success but a step forward from Tomas Aviles will also be needed in defense.

Without Kamal Miller, now on the Portland Timbers, Miami’s defensive mobility has taken a hit but if Aviles can keep things polished at the back, it will go a long way during the season. He’ll have quite a lot of work to do in order to make it happen though. 

Table prediction

Due to concerns with depth, I have Miami finishing eighth in the East but with shifted priorities that can win the conference. My reasoning here is when they only need to make playoffs due to every game feeling like a home match with fans cheering for Messi, why work harder to finish higher in the conference while risking injury to key players?

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.