FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Call it the Miami Massacre on Commercial Boulevard.
Inter Miami hit rock bottom by delivering the worst performance and result in its short history on Wednesday night, losing, 5-0, at home to the New England Revolution. The game was an absolute bloodbath, an abysmal collective failure from what is clearly a broken team that was every bit as awful and putrid as the scoreline indicates.
The South Florida side started the match at Drv Pnk Stadium on the right foot, the front foot. The Herons looked more dangerous during the opening 15 minutes, threatening the Revolution with good passing sequences and movements.
Then, in an instant, it all came apart.
The Revolution scored off a set piece at the quarter-hour mark, momentum was zapped, and Inter Miami crumbled into a chaotic state of apathy. Players instantly lost their desire, effort, and fight, deferring to one another to put out fires while once again looking like a collection of individuals rather than a unified team — something head coach Phil Neville either finally recognized or felt needed to be addressed publicly during an honest postgame press conference.
“Team does not have an I in it. Team is spelled a certain way because it needs everyone pulling in the same direction, it needs everyone to be fighting for the same cause,” said Neville. “That is what a team is. That is what New England was. Did they have better players than us? On paper, no, but they are a team and that is what we must become.”
Neville’s comments continued and they seemed almost as if he was pleading aloud for his players to come together.
“That is what this football club must have. It must have a team,” said Neville. “It must have a team that represents the badge and the team that represents (owners Jorge and Jose Mas and David Beckham). That is a team. That is all I am asking for. I am asking for a team. A team that will fight for each other. A team that will look around the dressing room and trust and believe in each other and fight for each other, almost like a brotherhood. That is all we need.”
Why Inter Miami does not have that right now under the Englishman is the key question. Has he lost the locker room? Did he ever have it to begin with? Are there cultural differences that are impacting things behind the scenes? Is this just one giant, dysfunctional mess?
Whatever the answers are, Neville saying this is not a team is not the first time we have heard something like this about Inter Miami. Former Herons A.J. DeLaGarza and Wil Trapp both talked about the same point in different terms when describing the 2020 side: that this group is not a collective, that this group is not on the same page, that this group does not fight for a single cause.
There have been signs of that throughout this year dating back to as early as the mid-May 3-0 loss to CF Montreal, but Wednesday’s “complete disaster” — to borrow words from new goalkeeper Nick Marsman — put the spotlight firmly on the lack of chemistry and camaraderie that currently exists in the Inter Miami camp.
neville is not the answer but will likely stay on
Wednesday’s embarrassment not only set a franchise record for consecutive losses, but it did so in record fashion. The humiliating defeat was the biggest Inter Miami has had in its short time in Major League Soccer, leading to the latest chorus of boos and jeers from frustrated fans at Drv Pnk Stadium.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) July 22, 2021
That in and of itself would lead many teams around the world to make a coaching change — un resultado saca tecnico, as is said in Spanish — and Inter Miami should do that and part ways with Neville. Realistically, though, the team probably will not.
Neville has personal ties to Beckham that are well-documented, and chances are pretty slim that the Inter Miami co-owner signs off on firing his former teammate, friend, and business parter right now even with the team trending in a downward direction with little reason for optimism. The fledgling side will probably also be reluctant to have to start over again with a third coach in a year-and-a-half.
Still, Neville’s seat is as hot as it has ever been. This horrendous run of form combined with the questions that now exist as to whether some players have given up on him require some real hard talks between Beckham, the Mas brothers, sporting director Chris Henderson, and Neville.
For his part, Inter Miami’s manager took responsibility and accountability on Wednesday for what has transpired this year. He even indirectly, albeit briefly, talked about the possibility of losing his job.
“I feel (the owners’) full support. I always have. The concern is me,” said Neville. “They do not need to tell me about their concerns because I have the same concerns. I have been in football long enough and I have been in situations where these results are not good enough, so I know the consequences. That is no problem to me because all I want is for this team and this football club to succeed.”
Neville might want the best for Inter Miami, but right now he simply is not it. The team has regressed under him from where it was last season when Diego Alonso was in charge, with Lewis Morgan’s significant drop in performance quite possibly the biggest example of that, and Neville looks to be out of answers as evidenced by his lack of instruction during the water breaks on Wednesday.
You cannot make wholesale changes at the snap of your fingers in MLS given the complex roster rules and regulations, but you can change the head coach. Inter Miami should go that route, but it is pretty doubtful that happens. Neville will likely be given more time to get the Herons out of this deep hole, but the pressure is on for him to right this ship sooner rather than later.
higuain, matuidi need to be dropped from the lineup
If Neville stays on, one thing that needs to be done in order to improve the team is dropping both Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi from the lineup.
Neither Designated Player and team captain showed the type of character, leadership, or personality needed to stop the bleeding against the Revolution. Higuain cut a frustrated figure yet again while casually strolling about the field, and Matuidi was a disinterested onlooker that once again showed just how much of a defensive liability he is.
You need only look at the entire sequence leading to the second goal to see just how much the Frenchman does not care about providing the urgency and effort needed. Referee Robert Sibiga even initially outran Matuidi while following the play.
Benching both the experienced stars in favor of players like Julian Carranza and Jay Chapman would take some quality away from the starting lineup, but it would provide Inter Miami with more effort and that is frankly what the team needs more of right now. It is one thing to lose games 1-0 to D.C. United or 2-1 to Orlando City in which you display a whole lot of desire and very little soccer, and it is another to get thrashed and dismantled like we have seen on more than one occasion this year.
Unfortunately for Inter Miami, that is how low the bar is right now, which is why prioritizing players who are committed to the cause is more important than experience, know-how, or even quality.
inter miami player ratings
Nick Marsman (6) — Was one of the best players, avoiding his nightmarish team debut from being even worse than it was with six saves.
Nicolas Figal (1) — His worst Inter Miami display. Was directly involved in giving up four goals, and showed apathy in tracking back on the other.
Ryan Shawcross (3) — Lost several of his individual battles due to his lack of speed while also not providing much organization or interventions.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (3.5) — Tried to make his presence felt with forays forward, but it resulted in him getting pulled out of position with lots of space left on several occasions.
Christian Makoun (3) — Beaten on the winning header and terrorized by Carles Gil on the fourth before being substituted at halftime.
Victor Ulloa (5.5) — Put in a lot of work covering ground and breaking things up while also passing the ball very accurately.
Blaise Matuidi (3) — Lasted only 45 minutes before being yanked. A lack of effort on the second goal is the latest example for why he should be benched.
Lewis Morgan (4.5) — Tried to make things happen in the attack, but also demonstrated an indifference at times that was clear to see on the fourth goal.
Rodolfo Pizarro (4) — Began the game sharp with quick passes and decisions before fading hard after the goals started to rain down.
Robbie Robinson (6) — The side’s most aggressive and brightest attacking spot, especially during the strong start, in his first game back from injury.
Gonzalo Higuain (4) — Took a half-dozen shots, but still walked about the field too often and struggled with his touch in key areas at times as well.
Jay Chapman (6) — Looked for the ball often and showed well enough in replacing Matuidi to earn a start on the weekend.
Kieran Gibbs (5) — A serviceable debut as a sub that showed some of what he can bring as well as his offseason rust.
Julian Carranza (5) — Denied of a goal by the crossbar in an overall respectable cameo off the bench.
Indiana Vassilev (5) — Decent on ball without being overly threatening in his 23-minute team debut.
Federico Higuain (N/A) — Came in late and had too few touches.
Phil Neville (1) – Seeing his team all but give up in a 4-0 first half was a new low, and raised more questions about the job he is doing.