Nashville SC are at Nissan Stadium for the first time since February. The Boys in Gold host fellow expansion side Inter Miami after a 3-1 loss in Orlando midweek.
Ben Wright: Miami got their first win in club history last weekend, with a brace from Julián Carranza. Do you think Carranza’s performance solves some of their concerns at the forward position, or do you think they still go out and look for a new signing?
Franco Panizo: Both. I think Carranza’s two-goal outing vs. Orlando City gives them an answer in the short term at a position that had been filled by committee through the first six games of this year strange, stop-and-go season. It was not just his finishing either, but also his ability to hold the ball up, draw fouls, open up space for teammates, and overall confidence that should have Inter Miami optimistic about what he can bring to the table.
That said, Inter Miami has said from early in the year that it wants to round out the roster with a Designated Player striker. There’s been talks in recent weeks about potentially using that final DP slot on a winger, but the ideal target would surely be a veteran, goal-scoring No. 9. Whether the expansion side can make that happen this year is up in the air, but don’t think that team officials are not trying.
BW: How big of an impact do you think Blaise Matuidi will have in their midfield and do you expect him to get his debut in Nashville?
FP: Like with the striker spot, Inter Miami had talked publicly since February about adding a central midfielder to help round out the squad. It took much longer to add such a player, but the team did so with a World Cup winner that is going to bring experience, leadership, energy, defensive bite, range, physicality, and dynamic two-way play. The Frenchman’s presence will allow others to better play to their strengths, and will give the team a massive upgrade in the center of the park. Honestly, there’s no doubt that Matuidi, who was just playing for Juventus, will have a major impact on the team on both sides of the ball.
As for whether he’ll make his debut this weekend, the short answer is no. He is still going through his visa paperwork and as a result has not yet joined the team.
BW: Do you think the performance at the MLS is Back Tournament was a product of growing pains from an expansion team, or is indicative of any larger issues?
FP: Once again, probably a bit of both. Like Nashville SC, Inter Miami is obviously an expansion team that has a new group of players that is still to this day working on improving chemistry and understanding. There was clearly a lack of cohesion and familiarity at the MLS is Back Tournament, as evidenced by the disjointed and subpar play that Inter Miami delivered over much of the 270 minutes in Orlando, Florida.
There were, however, some recurring issues that were indicative of bigger problems. For instance, the midfield play was very weak (and something I was critical of regularly during the competition). Inter Miami struggled mightily to build up good attacking sequences that led to scoring chances, with central midfielders Wil Trapp and Victor Ulloa not providing enough ideas, speed, or passing variety. To reiterate, though, Matuidi’s looming arrival will eventually help there.
Head coach Diego Alonso also made some questionable decisions, be it tactical or lineup related, but seems to have addressed some of them after having gained more knowledge about what his crop of players can do.
One concern that has flown under the radar a bit but that is certainly something to keep an eye on is the play of goalkeeper Luis Robles, who has come up with some of his trademark big saves but has also let in a few soft goals by his standards.
BW: How do you think Miami will line up?
FP: Before Wednesday’s matches were postponed, Inter Miami was set to repeat the exact same lineup against Atlanta United that beat Orlando City for the team’s historic first win last weekend. You should fully expect that XI again.
Huge thanks to Franco for his time and expertise. Make sure to follow him @FrancoPanizo for the latest Inter Miami news.