Inter Miami has a number of problems right now. One of them is what to do with Matias Pellegrini.
Inter Miami suffered the sixth defeat in its inaugural season with Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Nashville SC, and one thing the match highlighted was how much work Pellegrini still needs before he can be counted on as an every-game starter.
The young Argentine attacker was once again deployed in a more central position to try and help Inter Miami with its pressing and build-up against Nashville SC, but he struggled to make an impact on either side of the ball before being substituted.
It was not just that Pellegrini had trouble finding the game and getting on the ball, but also how aimlessly he ran about on defense without ever really helping regain possession. What’s more, he lacked the intensity that the game called for at times, had his usual significant drop-off in energy before coming off, was overmatched physically, and gave up a needless penalty.
“Maybe it wasn’t the best display from him,” said Inter Miami head coach Diego Alonso in Spanish. “He had a great game in the last match, but maybe today he didn’t find the spaces to connect play. Nonetheless, we have a lot of confidence in him and his qualities.
“We know with young players that sometimes they’ll have high highs and low lows. We just have to have patience so that he can keep growing.”
How much patience can Inter Miami show Pellegrini right now, though? The team is in the basement of the Eastern Conference and sorely needs to begin picking up points in order to try and move into the playoff picture.
At this point, moving the inconsistent Young Designated Player out of the lineup might be best. No, it is not a crime for a 19-year-old attacker to endure struggles and Pellegrini certainly was not the only Inter Miami starter to turn in a subpar showing.
Still, he has been more cold than hot for Inter Miami in 2020 and just does not seem ready right now, not to be a regular starter anyway.
Shea makes case for a start
For the second straight game, Brek Shea came off the bench to provide a spark. He did just that.
Shea entered the match with 15 minutes to go as a replacement for left back Ben Sweat, and turned in a mostly positive shift during that final quarter of an hour. Shea was more capable of getting forward into the attack than Sweat — though Nashville SC also opted to retreat a bit by the time Shea came on — and was a constant threat on the left.
His final balls lacked a bit of precision and Shea also inadvertently blocked a Juan Agudelo header that could have given Inter Miami an equalizer. That said, Shea combined well with fellow substitute Lee Nguyen and starter Rodolfo Pizarro on the left flank to tilt the Inter Miami attack to that side during the game’s final stretch.
Shea’s solid performance combined with Sweat’s regression to the mean vs. Nashville SC should pave the way for more minutes and even a potential start for the 30-year-old veteran in the near future. Maybe even as soon as in Wednesday’s game against his former club, Atlanta United.
Earlier subs beeded
Head coach Diego Alonso did something on Sunday that is seen more so in video games than in real life: He made all of his permitted substitutions at once.
Alonso changed half of his starting lineup in the 75th minute, inserting Shea, Nguyen, Agudelo, Robbie Robinson, and Dylan Nealis all at the same time. The move worked well for Inter Miami, as the energy the quintuplet brought allowed the team to hit Nashville SC with an onslaught of attacks.
Still, the game was calling for Inter Miami to switch up personnel well before the final quarter hour. Inter Miami fell behind in the 53rd minute, and did not muster up much of a response in the immediate aftermath.
In fact, Nashville SC could have probably put the game to bed even before Inter Miami’s slew of changes, but Hany Mukhtar missed his penalty kick in the 74th minute.
Inter Miami Player Ratings
Luis Robles (6.5) — Made a big stop early by cutting off the angle on Dominique Badji, and did so again later in the match to prevent another shot.
Nicolas Figal (5.5) — A bit lucky not to get sent off with a second yellow, but was overall solid in his defending and tried to get involved in the attack.
Andres Reyes (4) — Had trouble all night with Badji’s physicality and runs in behind. His awkward kneed clearance that led to Nashville SC’s winner capped a disappointing effort.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (6) — Was an overall rock at the back and had some good forward passes, too. His only real slight was committing the foul that started the sequence that led to Godoy’s goal.
Ben Sweat (5) — Not his sharpest performance and was a bit tentative when he got into the final third. Could be moved out of the lineup again soon.
Wil Trapp (5.5) — The central midfielder initiated passing sequences from deep but struggled a bit defensively and was overall quiet on the day.
Victor Ulloa (4.5) — Another largely invisible showing on both sides of the ball. Fully expect him to be moved out of the lineup once Blaise Matuidi arrives, if not sooner.
Matias Pellegrini (4) — Followed up his strong display against Orlando City with an awful outing that saw him struggle in almost every aspect. His place in the lineup should be in question.
Lewis Morgan (5.5) — Won some 1-on-1 situations and whipped in a few good low crosses, but was not overly threatening. His free kick delivery also could have been better.
Julian Carranza (4.5) — Starved of service for much of his spell on the field, though he also did not make things happen on his own.
Rodolfo Pizarro (5) — Came alive in the final 15 minutes when Inter Miami threw numbers forward, but overall was as quiet and poor as we’ve seen him this year.
Brek Shea (6) — Provided a spark off the bench for a second straight game, though he blocked a would-be equalizer from Juan Agudelo. A potential start at left back could be in the cards in this busy stretch.
Lee Nguyen (6) — Another effective substitute. The veteran gave the midfield quick ball movement and looked to play forward almost always.
Juan Agudelo (5.5) — Had a goal-bound header blocked by Shea, and tried to make things happen when he got on the ball.
Robbie Robinson (5) — Maybe a bit unlucky not to draw a penalty kick in his Inter Miami return. His rust and lack of sharpness were evident.
Dylan Nealis (4.5) — The rookie got forward well in moments, but did not provide all that much during his stint on the field and had one bad turnover.
Diego Alonso (4.5) — May have pointed to the shot count as a sign for why his team played well, but Inter Miami had very few attacking ideas and started both halves poorly. He probably could have made some earlier subs, too.