The Higuain Connection
Inter Miami have a strong squad, but one name sticks out among the rest – Higuain.
Inter Miami’s roster has two players by that name, and both will be familiar to fans of MLS. Elder brother Federico is a league stalwart that is best known for a productive eight-season spell with Columbus Crew.
Meanwhile, his brother Gonzalo counts Napoli, Juventus, and Real Madrid among some of his former employers. The siblings have already shown their ability to link up at points this season, largely due to how they dovetail on the field. While Gonzalo is a traditional number nine, brother Federico sits deeper, inhabiting dangerous pockets of space and creating dangerous opportunities.
Head Coach Phil Neville has been flexible with his choice of system of late. In Miami’s last three games they’ve lined up as a back four, back five, and back three, meaning the Higuain brothers have not always started the game together, but still produced a combined nine goals and five assists.
It is almost guaranteed that Gonzalo will start the game as one of the club’s Designated Players, but don’t be surprised if Neville turns to Federico later in the game. NYCFC will need to watch both carefully, if they are to emerge victorious.
Make A Point
As we touched on above, Miami have been experimenting with formations of late.
That has seen the team unbeaten in four games, with two wins and two draws. It would not be a surprise to see Phil Neville persist with a back three or back five on the road against NYCFC, and that will pose a familiar test for the Boys in Blue.
Ronny Deila has made no secret of the fact that when NYCFC have not won it is often a consequence of small details. City are always keen to dominate possession and use that as a platform to create chances.
Unfortunately, the team hasn’t always seen good chances to turn into goals, especially against teams further down the standings. The game against Miami is an opportunity for NYCFC to reaffirm their push for the Supporters’ Shield with a big victory.
Keep Them Guessing
If Inter Miami have shown versatility with their choice of system, NYCFC have a similar flexibility themselves.
The team’s squad depth has been a much admired part of the 2021 season, and that is evidenced by how seamlessly Ronny Deila has swapped players in and out of late.
The return of Talles Magno to first team training reinforces that fact, and will now mean that NYCFC can maintain that intensity until the very last minute.
The unpredictability of the team’s starting XI is a testament to the standard of training, but also the depth of the squad, and those factors combined make it hard for opponents to predict which side will face them.