New York City Football Club are back on home soil as they entertain Inter Miami CF in the Home Opener.
Hi Ian, thank you for speaking with us, how long have you been covering Inter Miami CF?
Happy to chat! I have been covering Inter Miami since the very start, from the club's beginnings to their first season in 2020. In 2021, I founded and host The Heron Outlet, an independent media organization that covers the Senior Team, MLS Next Pro's Inter Miami II, and the Academy, as well as soccer throughout South Florida.
How would you evaluate the team's 2022 season?
Last year exceeded expectations from the outside but inside Inter Miami's training facility, there is a sense they could've or should've gotten more from the season and want to prove that this year. Many picked them towards the bottom of the East last year and after they went winless in their first six games, that looked likely. But a summer hot streak, fueled by Gonzalo Higuain and Alejandro Pozuelo, they finished with the sixth seed and making the playoffs for the second time where they simply were outclassed by NYCFC. This team is pretty dominant at home in South Florida and they set the benchmark at wanting home playoff games, with the feeling that could be the recipe for long term success.
What are their prospects in 2023?
I think this team has a belief that they can be a top four seed in the Eastern Conference. Head Coach Phil Neville has stated time and time again that's the goal. They have enjoyed the lack of attention nationally and are excited about the opportunity to surprise people and prove they belong. The first two games (both wins) have them top of the East currently. That would indicate they at least have a case, albeit, road results will define their 2023 season. This weekend will be their first chance to get a result away from South Florida.
Who would you identify as their dangerman?
The midfield is the engine which Inter Miami runs on. Anchored by Brazilian's Jean Mota and Gregore, who have really upped their game to start the year, solidifying the center of the park is key. From there everything flows upwards to Designated Player Rodolfo Pizarro and newcomer Nicolas Stefanelli into the attack where they'd like to connect with former MLS MVP Josef Martinez to bang in goals.
What do you see as being the deciding factor in Saturday's game?
Phil Neville said this week that he felt their road performance was what kept them from hosting a playoff game last season. The primary factor in that was the lack of offense on the road. In 18 matches including the playoffs, Inter Miami only scored 13 road goals last year. Without Designate Player Leo Campana up top, who looks to still be at least one week away from returning, creating good goal scoring chances and executing on those will be paramount for the Herons to get their first away result of 2023.