Kamal Miller (B+)
[KEN] The center back was impactful in a way he hasn't been for several matches, especially in the first half when he registered a handful of blocks and interceptions to help steady a backline that included left back Noah Allen, who usually plays on the wing, and right back Tomas Aviles, spelling 31-year-old Ukrainian stalwart Sergiy Kryvstov. He (along with defensive mid Dixon Arroyo) was the glue that cemented a unit that kept New York out of the Herons' net. Honorable mention: Goalkeeper Drake Callender came up big yet again, with four saves and several aggressive interceptions of crosses through the box and punches away from danger; Cremaschi continues to be a super-sub off the bench, helping create a couple of chances -- including Messi's golazo -- in just 18 minutes; and Noah Allen who, while playing out of position, still managed to get forward and find Diego Gomez on the Herons' first goal.
[MATT] I, for one, have been really hard on Inter Miami's defense since July, and for good measure. It's been the defense that has been sorely lacking in the first 22 matches of the regular season.
Even in the Leagues Cup, the Herons' defense wasn't always present -- I'm looking at matches against FC Dallas, Cruz Azul and Nashville as prime examples.
In order for Inter Miami to be a more complete squad, players like Miller need to step up to the plate and up their defensive game. MLS sides are going to realize that perhaps the only way to beat Inter Miami is to score first and score often (although, we've seen that doesn't always work either).
Inter's defense has been leaky at best, but Miller shook off some tough play against FC Cincinnati and delivered a much more solid performance in the back half, especially considering Martino starting more youth at the back.