I’m a data nerd. I look at data and spreadsheets all day long for my regular job, which lends itself to doing the same when examining Inter Miami.
Now that we are more than halfway through the Major League Soccer season, we thought it was a good time to see the Herons' rate when compared to the rest of the league.
Let’s break it down.
The xG Tells A Compelling Story About Inter Miami
Expected goals, or xG, is an interesting stat that, while maybe not the most accurate, can paint an interesting picture of a team.
The xG is designed to measure the probability of a shot resulting in a goal. Probabilities range from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest probability.
For example, if a team has a xG of 0.3, that means they should score on 30% of their shots taken.
When combining open play and set pieces, Inter Miami has an xG of 0.18 — meaning they should score on 18% of their shots. This is on the low end of all Major League Soccer teams.
Columbus has the lowest xG at 0.12 while Nashville SC has the highest at 0.30.
In open play — meaning not set pieces — Inter Miami has taken 180 shots and scored 15 goals. Those 180 shots are also low by league standards. Only six teams have lower shots in open play.
The picture becomes clearer when you look at the goals from open play. Inter Miami’s 15 is tied for third-lowest in MLS.
So, not only is Inter Miami not taking shots in open play, they aren’t really converting on the ones they are taking.
If you look at set pieces, the Herons have 48 shots — the lowest in the league — and have converted on five of those — which is actually right in the middle of all MLS teams.
Inter Miami’s xG Against Shows Something Interesting
Stats can show how many goals you can expect for your team, but it can also calculate how many goals you can expect against your side.
Combining open play and set play, Inter Miami has an xG against (expected goals against) of 0.17. This means opponents are converting 17% of their shots against the Herons’ defense.
That is surprisingly low for a team sitting at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference.
Only five other teams have a lower xG against — St. Louis City, Charlotte, D.C. United, Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City.
The problem with Inter Miami’s defense is illustrated in open play.
Teams have taken 226 shots against the Herons — sixth-highest in MLS — and converted on 20 of those shots.
Set play statistics are even worse for Inter Miami.
Teams have scored 13 goals on 82 shots in set play — the goals are the highest in the league.
It means our set play defense is shaky to say the least and teams are capitalizing when in range of goal.
Sequence Speed Sorely Lacking for Inter Miami
Sequence is basically possession. We can look at sequence time (how long the possession lasts), passes per sequence and direct speed to see how effective Inter Miami moves on offense.
The Herons do a good job with sequence time at about 10.21 seconds and they average 3.7 passes per sequence.
It means they are hanging on to the ball and moving it around when they have it.
However, the direct speed score is 1.19 — the third-lowest in MLS — indicating they aren’t moving the ball very quickly, which allows for opponents to slip into passing lanes and disrupt the flow.
Inter Miami needs to learn to move the ball up the field faster to avoid teams from intercepting.
Inter Miami Excels On the Wings and Midfield
The final piece of data we can examine is the zones of control.
This breaks down the pitch into zones and shows where teams touch the ball more than their opponents.
Inter Miami does a good job on touches in front of their own goal extending center to the midfield.
They also touch the ball 60% of the time on the wings on offense, but they lack the ability to exert any control in front of the opponent’s goal.
This isn’t too unusual as every other team in MLS holds the ball better in front of their own goal, but the interesting thing is Inter Miami’s control on the wings. Only four other teams have a higher percentage of touches on both wings.
The problem has been Inter Miami’s inability to take that positive possession and turn it into goal-scoring opportunities in front of the net.
This can be attributed to weaker passing inside or an inability for center forwards to break free of coverage in front of goal.
Any way you slice it, Inter Miami’s stats tell a story of a team that has plenty to work on in the back half of the MLS season.