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Atlanta United at Inter Miami: Three Questions with Alex Donno

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The South Florida radio personality and Inter Miami CF studio host gives us the rundown on the new boys from Florida

MLS: Orlando City SC at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Inter Miami may not have an SB Nation blog just yet, but by no means is the expansion club short on incredibly knowledgeable supporters. We got in touch with one such character, Alex Donno, for our three questions segment. The South Florida radio personality and Inter Miami studio host lets us know what’s going on down South under David Beckham’s watch.

Q: Inter Miami opened the season with 5 straight losses, the worst ever start for an expansion side. But does that tell the full story? Has Miami shown anything that gives you hope? On the flip side, what are Miami’s greatest weaknesses?

A: Inter Miami’s 0-5 record does not tell the full story. Each of their defeats has come by one goal, and they’ve been competitive for the most part. In defeats against DC United and Orlando City, they held 1-0 leads before letting them slip away. The team has been missing a touch of quality to finish off opponents, and you get the feeling they are a victory or even a point away from gaining confidence to go on a bit of a streak. They’ve shown hope in the sense that they are a sound defensive side with quality goalkeeping from Luis Robles. They haven’t conceded more than two goals in any game they’ve played. Center-backs Nico Figal, Roman Torres and Andres Reyes have done quite well defensively, and new addition Leandro Gonzales Pirez is about to make that position even deeper.

Their biggest weaknesses are a combination of factors that lead to a lack of goal scoring. Attacking midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro is by far their most dangerous player going forward, but he can’t do everything by himself. Opponents can pay him extra attention and hack him without having to worry much about other scoring threats.

Meanwhile, the holding midfielders behind Pizarro have been problematic to this point. Wil Trapp and Victor Ulloa have gotten the bulk of the workload there, and they lack creativity and ability to hold possession.

Also, Inter Miami lacks a proven finisher at the striker position. Juan Agudelo is rough around the edges and Julian Carranza just needs more time and seasoning. Top draft pick Robbie Robinson will be back in the mix after missing the MLS Is Back tournament for personal reasons (and is likely the best option of those three,) but he surely needs more time to grow in his rookie season. Robinson has a very bright future, though, to be fair.

Inter Miami CF v Los Angeles Football Club Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Q: There is of course a rather notable Frenchman who’s just made his way to Florida. What do you make of the Blaise Matuidi move? Just another ageing superstar, or could he make a real impact on Miami and the league?

A: Matuidi is a welcome addition to add quality and experience to the midfield. As stated earlier, Trapp and Ulloa have just not been good enough, so the French International provides an immediate upgrade. It’s an especially good piece of business by IMCF since they did not use their final DP spot, leaving that as an option for a quality number nine.

Blaise Matuidi of Juventus FC celebrates with the trophy...
Matuidi celebrating Juventus’s Scudetto victory just a month prior
Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Matuidi is entering the twilight of his career at 33, but I believe he still has a couple good years left to give. The termination of his contract by Juventus had more to do with his high salary and age than his actual quality. His box to box nature and high work-rate are much needed. Plus, he becomes the only current MLS player with a World Cup victory under his belt. An expansion side can really benefit from his winning mentality. In addition to his success as an international, he’s won countless trophies at the club level with PSG and Juventus.

Nicolo Zaniolo (C) of AS Roma is challenged by Blaise...
Matuidi fighting Nicolo Zaniolo for the ball in Juventus’s final regular season match against AS ROMA
Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Q: What do you want to see Miami accomplish in the six games against Atlanta, Nashville, and Orlando? Simply be competitive, or challenge for a playoff spot and above?

A: I’ll keep the expectations modest for this upcoming stretch. If IMCF can win a couple games and grind out a few results over these next six, we can consider that a positive sign for growth. It’s reasonable to expect the results to improve as the squad adds reinforcements like Matuidi, LGP and the returning Robinson, but the first five games have shown us that patience will be required as the team finds their footing. We might be a season away from challenging for a playoff spot, but I reserve the right to change my mind on that if the squad really hits the ground running after the restart.