Previewing Inter Miami's inaugural match vs LAFC

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Holy S#&* people, we are just 2 days away from actual Inter Miami soccer matches. A lot has been said about who Inter Miami was going to bring in before this season actually came to be. Cavani, Ronaldo, Messi, David Silva, Pedro, Falcao, Aguero, and many many more.

None of them or any other Galacticos have arrived, but we do have a full roster minus one (Inter still has an open DP spot). Let's take a look at how Diego Alonso could align the guys he does have on Sunday at LAFC.


During his time at Monterrey, where Alonso most recently managed, he liked to set up his team in a 4-2-3-1. Having studied available videos since his hiring, while also attending the open friendly in St. Pete against the Rowdies, a few things about Alonso's playing style are important to know.

For starters, you have to look at the setup and tactics of this team in two halves of the field, Miami's half and the opposition half.

In the opposition half, Alonso wants his men to control the possession and dictate the tempo. This means you will see a lot of short passes between the midfielders, as they look for either a forward to start link-up play or a wide fullback to find a forward to start link-up play.

Another of Alonso's famed tactics in Mexico is when his teams lose possession of the ball in their own half is to immediately win the ball back. It's an aggressive style of play that ideally allows Miami to win the ball back and restart possession with the other team now out of position. Think of an NBA team ceding a defensive rebound, immediately pressing to force a turnover, and then starting a fast break. It's very similar to what Alonso wants to do.

In Miami's half, expect to see a defensive shape that is well organized and working very hard to win the ball back. Miami was extremely organized against Tampa when defending in their half, which is a good indication that the team has picked up and understood his tactics.

Alonso wants to play on the counter, catching teams out of position with attacking numbers in his teams' favor. Fullbacks will be expected to track back, the midfield expected to work tirelessly to get the ball to their outlets upfront to start the transition. Something else to look for (and something I LOVE to see), centerbacks driving up through midfield with the ball, looking to create and break lines. It's risky but aggressive, and with the right centerbacks is truly an asset.

As for the starting XI going into Game 1, a few of the spots are locks. Robles, Pizarro, Sweat, Figal, and Trapp will be in the lineup no matter the setup. Many have said Torres is a lock (Makoun will play plenty this season) and I tend to agree especially for game 1 against the reigning Supporters Shield winners. Lee Nguyen and Dylan Nealis also seem like locks to make the first XI.

Trapp and Ulloa feel like locks in midfield. Ulloa will be the defensive mid tasked with neutering any counters that the opposition look to create. Trapp will have more of a box to box role but mostly will look to dictate from further back, getting the ball upfield to the Joker, Rodolfo Pizarro. For obvious reasons, he is the guy to watch. I expect he will be given the freedom to pick up open spaces anywhere along the front line, as he did for Monterrey. You'll for sure see him pick up spots on the left, center, and right as he is allowed to do what he wants to create opportunities. He will be the main outlet that Miami looks to in order to turn defense into immediate offense. As for Pelligrini, I have nothing to offer other than he's a DP and hopefully is good (that's some top-notch analysis).

The biggest question mark is up top at striker. Julian Carranza was certainly going to be the guy before he got hurt in training, leaving rookie Robbie Robinson and former Bundesliga player Jerome Kiesewetter as the only true striker option. I went with Kiesewetter for two reasons. One, he's experienced as a professional, which in the first game against the league's best team is valuable to have.

Second, he didn't play in the open scrimmage versus the Rowdies last week. Why is that of note? Almost every player who started that game (aside from Torres) is seen as a depth player. The team held a closed-door scrimmage that same morning, and coincidentally none of the supposed starters were available for the nightcap against Tampa? It wouldn't seem to make sense to me that Robinson would start game 1 but also play with the reserve lineup in their last scrimmage.

Similar reasoning is had when not selecting Lewis Morgan for this XI. He featured in that game and was pretty bad against Rowdies. I expect to see him and Robinson both on the bench Sunday, getting late cameos to get their feet wet in MLS.

Keep this in mind for Sunday, Miami are playing the best team in the US. It's the worst possible situation for your first game. I would expect Alonso will set up his ideal team, regardless of the fact LA average 3 goals per game at home last year. It's the first game ever, nobody is expecting a victory, why come out and park the bus? Play your style, show what you want to be, and hope for the best.