Inter Miami’s Achilles’ Heel Heading Into Match With Orlando City

While Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets have added a level of improvement to Inter Miami, the Herons aren’t without their glaring weaknesses.

Lionel Messi has provided an offensive spark for Inter Miami. Now it needs to work on its defense.
Lionel Messi has provided an offensive spark for Inter Miami. Now it needs to work on its defense. / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

It can’t be overstated that Inter Miami looks to be a much better side with Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets in the lineup.

But that doesn’t mean the team isn’t without its weaknesses.

If Inter Miami hopes to overcome Orlando City in the knockout stage of the Leagues Cup, it is going to have to identify the weakness… and overcome it.

Let’s get into it.

Offensively, Inter Miami Is A Better Side

Yes, Inter Miami is much better in attack with Busquets pointing out Messi in a press.

The way teams are swarming Messi when he has the ball has opened up a lot of other opportunities to score… we’re looking at you, Robert Taylor.

I was diving into some stats, thanks to and turned up some interesting numbers.

In Leagues Cup play, Inter Miami is averaging 3.5 goals per game… which is great.

Robert Taylor
Inter Miami forward Robert Taylor celebrates a goal against Atlanta United. / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

Especially considering, in all competitions, the Herons only average 1 goal per game.

I know the sample size is considerably different — two Leagues Cup games to an entire half of a Major League Soccer season — but it is a marked improvement.

But, when you look at the U.S. Open Cup matches, Inter Miami does well — averaging just over two goals per game.

Inter Miami is 26th in MLS in total goal scored with 22 — only New York Red Bulls, Toronto and Colorado trail them.

Adding Messi and Busquets in attack is certainly helping Inter Miami, which needless to say, struggled to find the back of the net before the Leagues Cup break.

The Big Achilles’ Heel For Inter Miami

The offense for Inter Miami appears to be coming together.

But, if the Herons have one glaring Achilles’ Heel heading into its Florida derby with Orlando City, it’s the defense.

Inter Miami is conceding an average of 1.63 goals per match in Major League Soccer play.

That drops to just one goal per game in U.S. Open Cup matches and 0.5 goals per game in the Leagues Cup.

So, things have gotten better.

But they aren’t nearly where they should be.

For example, against Cruz Azul, if not for the sharp play of goalkeeper Drake Callender and the fact that Cruz Azul couldn’t buy an accurate shot, the game might have been completely different by the time Messi, Busquets and Josef Martinez entered the match in the second half.

Sergio Busquets, Drake Callender
Drake Callender (yellow) has been much improved in goal over the last two matches for Inter Miami. / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

And it isn’t a question of being better in one half over another. Inter Miami has given up an average of 0.77 goals in the first half and 0.86 in the second.

Conversely, that hurts because the offense is only averaging 0.32 goals in the first and 0.68 in the second.

Clearly not scoring goals early is hurting Inter Miami’s defense.

But, anyone who has watched Inter Miami play knows its defense leaks… and leaks bad.

Even Atlanta United was able to penetrate the defense on multiple occasions and that team should have struggled to press the ball past midfield.

I know that Jordi Alba is coming soon and that will certainly help the back-line prospects for Inter Miami, but if they hope to shore things up and advance in the Leagues Cup, manager Tata Martino has to get better play out of his defense.

Kamal Miller was greatly improved in the back between the match with Cruz Azul and Atlanta United, but he has to be more consistent in his pressure.

While Callender has been solid in goal, the more he gets tested, the more opportunity for shots to find the back of the net.

Inter Miami has to take the pressure off Callender and improve its defensive play, which will, in turn, feed the attack and create more chances for Messi and Co. to press ahead.