Massive Scouting Report: Inter Miami

The Columbus Crew took down USL Championship side Indy Eleven on Wednesday night to advance in the US Open Cup. Now, the Crew is set to return to MLS action to face Inter Miami this Saturday at Field.

Miami enters after a wild penalty kick shootout win against intra-city rivals Miami FC this past Wednesday in the Open Cup. The Black & Gold enter with the opportunity to climb up the Eastern Conference standings, while Miami is looking to get on track after a poor start to the campaign.

Let’s take a look at this matchup.

Inter Miami at a glance:

League Form: L-L-L-L-L

Record: 2-0-6  (6 Points)

Leading Scorer: Corentin Jean, Franco Negri, Nicolas Stefanelli, Robert Taylor, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Shandyer Borgelin (1 goals)

Assist Leader: Jean Mota (2 assists)

Player to watch: Jean Mota

Mota has been far and away the best player for Miami so far in 2023. The 29-year-old Brazilian is in his second campaign for Miami after joining from Santos FC in Brazil. Mota has played all over for Miami, but typically finds himself pulling the string in the center of midfield. His passing range and vision make him a key suspect in breaking down opposing defenses.

While Mota doesn’t always impact the game on the score sheet, he is incredibly important to Inter, both in possession and in the final third. If the Crew can limit Mota’s role in this match they will take a key cog out of the Miami attack.

How Inter Miami Play:

Head coach Phil Neville is in Year 3 in Miami and is off to a rough start. However, despite the team’s poor results, Inter has put in some good performances thus far in 2023 and has key components that make the teams difficult to play against.

In the past, Neville has bounced from formation to formation. However, this year, it seems he has settled on his side taking a 4-2-3-1 shape. This must be taken with a grain of salt as teams may always line up differently than usual when facing the Crew and the team’s unique formation and playing style.

Miami has shifted to a more possession-based team in 2023. Inter’s 4-2-3-1 shape allows the team easier ball circulation and ensures they’ll always have wide options. Last week, Miami made some interesting tweaks to the team’s shape in possession. Namely, left back Franco Negri moved really high up the pitch while the other three defenders shifted into a more central shape. This shift allowed Nicolas Steffanelli to play in more central areas and put Miami into more of a 3-4-2-1 shape similar to Columbus.

While Inter is keen to keep the ball, if the team can play forward quickly, Miami will usually choose to do so in an effort to catch the opponent out.

Defensively, Inter defends in a 4-2-3-1 shape in a mid-block similar to the Crew last year under Caleb Porter. While Miami doesn’t have high pressure, as the ball progresses further up the field, Inter focuses on applying intense pressure to the player on the ball. A good example of this is how high up the field the Miami outside backs will step to their opponents in wide areas. Despite defending in a mid-block, Inter has a relatively high line that sometimes allows space to the opponent in behind.

How the Crew can win:

The Crew hopes to rebound in MLS play after a disappointing loss last week to Charlotte FC. The formula for success is pretty simple for the Black & Gold this week in order to get back to winning ways. Columbus mist:

  1. Beat the block: The Crew has done pretty well so far this season against teams who defend in a mid block. Atlanta United Real Salt Lake and D.C. United all come to mind. The Black & Gold must be both patient in possession and quick to attack. Columbus must be patient in order to move and manipulate the Miami defense in order to create space to attack. Once this space is created, the Crew must be quick to exploit it before it disappears. The old coaching adage comes to mind “be quick but don’t rush.”
  2. Get behind the outside backs: As mentioned, the Miami wing backs are willing to press very high against their opponents wide players. For most MLS teams, this means they are pressing wingers throughout the wide channels. However, against the Crew, this will be the Black & Gold’s wing backs (Mohamed Farsi, Malte Amundsen, Yaw Yeboah, Jimmy Medranda etc.) When the Inter outside backs press these players, there will be space for central attackers like Alexandru Matan, Lucas Zelarayan and others to exploit. If the Columbus is able to draw the Miami outside backs out of possession and get into the space behind them, the Crew could be in for a field day.
  3. No Giveaways: The Black & Gold can’t give away any goals to Inter on Saturday. Miami has been shut out in the team’s last three matches and has struggled to score all year. The Columbus defense will likely be able to deal with the Inter attack just fine as long as there are no chances off of turnovers, set pieces, silly fouls, etc. The Crew can do themselves a huge favor by just making Miami earn anything they get in the offensive end this Saturday.

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