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Inter Miami’s Agudelo aiming to build on strong first showing at left mid


From Rodolfo Pizarro to Matias Pellegrini and Brek Shea, Inter Miami has used a number of different players on the left side of its attack as of late.

The answer for that spot, however, could be someone that has seldom played there.

Juan Agudelo was given the nod as Inter Miami’s left midfielder in the last match vs. Nashville SC, and he delivered a strong performance that might just earn him another start there in Wednesday night’s home game against Atlanta United.

The veteran not only helped create the type of clear-cut scoring chances that Inter Miami has been missing for much of the year in this past Sunday’s 0-0 draw, but also connected well with new central midfielder Blaise Matuidi and left back Ben Sweat to give Inter Miami a real threat on that flank.

“I think it’s something that can become extremely dangerous moving forward,” said Agudelo on Tuesday. “You could tell there were some situations where I was in the pocket and I was understanding of how Blaise is able to play that ball with his left foot in between their right mid. If the right mid comes to me, he’s able to spring Ben on.

“I think they didn’t really have an answer to that play and I was encouraging that play to happen a little more often, but unfortunately we didn’t do it as much. It’s something that can be extremely dangerous and I believe in it strongly.”

Occupying spaces in that inside “pocket” as opposed to hugging the touchline is where you will probably see more of Agudelo should he continue to get starts at left mid. After all, he is more of a natural forward used to playing centrally than a traditional winger or outside player.

Regardless, the 27-year-old attacker can drift wide and his technical qualities, confidence on the ball, and ability to combine in short spaces could make him the go-to option in that part of the field.

“He’s got good feet. He can turn. He can dribble,” said Sweat, who connected with Agudelo to help generate four of Inter Miami’s best scoring chances vs. Nashville SC. “I combined really well with him there. He listens really well, so it makes my job a lot easier.”

Sweat added that Agudelo’s penchant to tuck inside allows him to overlap and race forward a bit more, which was especially evident during Inter Miami’s strong first 20 minutes last Sunday.

Agudelo, meanwhile, said that he himself wants to try and go at opposing defenders a bit more on the dribble to add that element to the attack.

“I had two opportunities and I want to be a little bit more aggressive if I get another chance to play that position,” said Agudelo. “But, personally, I thought it was a good experience. First time this year I played left mid and played for a good amount of time.”

The initial returns from Agudelo out wide were positive and it may just have been the start of something for Inter Miami.

“He can play in different positions, which pleases us,” said head coach Diego Alonso in Spanish on Tuesday. “I think he has had a very good performance, and we’re very happy with what he’s given us as of late.”

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