The preparations for the 2021 MLS season are rolling along. For Inter Miami, they are doing so without a full roster.
Inter Miami opened the doors of its practice facility to media members on Tuesday morning for the first time since before the pandemic hit in March 2020, but the team did so with some notable absences. Recent additions Ryan Shawcross, Gregore, and Joevin Jones were all missing from training, and just when they will arrive to South Florida remains uncertain as the trio sorts through red tape and paperwork.
“We are waiting for international clearance, we are waiting for visa applications to be filled in,” said head coach Phil Neville on a conference call on Tuesday after practice. “Hopefully by the end of March we will have all three with us, but I am (also) still waiting for two staff members from England to get their passports and their visa applications.
“Because of COVID everything seems to be taking double the time than what it would normally take, which is massively frustrating for me because they are two important staff members and three important players. We are just going to have to be patient.”
Similarly, the Herons are on standby with regards to the investigation that MLS recently launched into the 2020 signing of Blaise Matuidi. Neville had stated on March 8 that an answer from the league could probably come in the next “5-7 days,” but a determination has not yet been made.
“No update on Blaise, so I cannot give you any updates,” said Neville. “We are waiting for that.”
neville raves about robinson
It is safe to say that Neville rates second-year forward Robbie Robinson.
Neville had plenty of positive things to say about Robinson ahead of the American’s sophomore season as a professional. The English manager not only mentioned how much Robinson has impressed in training thus far while playing three different attacking positions — striker, right winger, left winger — but also talked highly of the 22-year-old Robinson’s potential.
“We have a big talent on our hands with Robbie,” said Neville. “I think I said to him yesterday in a meeting that I had with him: he can go as far as he possibly can. It depends how much he is prepared to work for it and how much he is prepared to want it.
“I think every Inter Miami fan out there should be really excited about some of our younger players, but in particular Robbie Robinson.”
The No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2020 MLS Draft, Robinson showed some glimpses of quality last year but struggled to make an impact. He finished his rookie season with Inter Miami with zero goals and one assist in four starts and 12 appearances.
“I saw Robbie on Day 1 come in and be quite shy, quite reserved,” said Neville. “Now I see a boy that is laughing, joking, in with his teammates, (and) looks like he is getting his mojo and his confidence back a little bit.”
- Inter Miami’s 2021 preseason opener is set for Saturday against in-city foe Miami FC, and Neville said the plan for his side is to get everyone “45 minutes” of action. He added that he intends to look at different formations in the closed-door scrimmage.
- A source told SBI that the Herons will not be livestreaming any of their preparatory games this year. The team is still working on finalizing an opponent for the last exhibition match on the final weekend of camp, and that tilt may be open to some of the general public.
- A source also told SBI that the Herons will not be playing Chile in a friendly later this month. A report from the South American nation on Monday had stated that the two sides were set to square off, but that is not the case.
- Neville stated that he sees and has been using Christian Makoun more so as a left center back rather than a defensive midfielder. Makoun saw time at both positions in 2020.
- Fort Lauderdale CF — Inter Miami’s USL team — has named Darren Powell as its head coach for the 2021 season. It was also revealed Tuesday that Fort Lauderdale CF will open the campaign vs. New England Revolution II on April 10.