Takeaways from Inter Miami’s loss to St. Louis in scrimmage, plus Ukrainian back to sign
It was just a scrum. As many as five projected Inter Miami starters – including forward Josef Martinez – have not played. So Saturday night’s 4-0 loss to expansion team St. Louis City in a preseason game is no reason for Miami coaches, players or fans to panic. .
Still, the inability to score more than 120 minutes (four 30-minute periods), following a 3-0 pre-season loss to Brazilian club Vasco da Gama, must be a concern for coach Phil Neville, who has promised a high-octane attack in 2023 to replace retired Gonzalo Higuain.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Scoring struggles continue: Martinez, one of the most prolific goalscorers in MLS history, will be a welcome addition to Miami’s attack, which failed to find the back of the net against a professional opponent this pre-season. (Word is they scored three against FIU in a behind-closed-doors scrimmage last week).
Martinez is getting back into shape after joining the Atlanta United team. Midfielders Bryce Duke and Jean Mota, who are recovering from injuries, were also absent, as were defenders Ryan Sailor (injured) and Franco Negri (just arrived from Argentina on Thursday).
Leo Campana and Ariel Lassiter started as forwards against St. Louis with midfielders Rodolfo Pizarro, Robert Taylor and Coco behind them. Robbie Robinson and Jake La Cava started in the lead in the third period, with Nico “Chicho” Stefanelli and Benajmin Cremaschi attacking from midfield.
Miami’s best chance came from left-back Noah Allen, who fired a shot that went just past the far post. That scoring streak began with a long pass to Campana, who fed the ball to Lassiter, who served it to Allen.
Stefanelli looked promising: Newly-signed Stefanelli, who arrived at camp last week, played 30 minutes and showed flashes of talent and decision-making that caught the club’s scouts. He can play anywhere in midfield but will likely be used as a playmaker.
He said he learned a lot about his teammates from the scrimmage and the week of training with them.
“It’s good for me to know my teammates’ tendencies and movements so I can adapt to them,” Stefanelli said. “I see Leo can throw it because he always wins aerial duels so for me if I’m number 10 I have to be near him to pick up second balls because if he plays with Ari or Josef , they are very quick to run behind to take those grazed balls.
“With Ari you have to be really adaptable because he’s very quick, runs diagonally and I have to be ready when I get the ball to turn and pass him fast.”
Miami’s backline showed cracks: Neville has been eager to strengthen the center back position, and help is on the way. Squad sources have confirmed that the club are finalizing a deal for 31-year-old Ukraine full-back Serhiy Kryvtsov, who played for Shakhtar, one of Ukraine’s top teams, and the Ukraine national team. He is expected to join the team in the coming days.
Defenders DeAndre Yedlin, Aime Mabika, Christopher McVey and Allen started on Saturday.
Former Inter Miami winger Indiana Vassilev scored against his former teammates in the second half when he fired a free kick long past Miami goalie Drake Callender. Vassilev gave a muted celebration, raising his hand before his current teammates assaulted him.
St. Louis’s other goals came in the final two periods from trialist Lucas Bartlett on a rebound from a corner, Samuel Adeniran from a Bartlett pass and Celio Pompeu from a penalty.
Inter Miami used two different formations and each played around 60 minutes.
First- and second-period line-ups: Callender; Yedlin, Mabika, McVey, Allen; Gregory, Taylor, Pizarro, Coco; Lassiter, Campana.
Third period team: Nick Marsman; Israel Boatwright, Tyler Hall, Modesto Mendez, Kieran Gibbs, Harvey Neville; Victor Ulloa, Benjamin Cremaschi, Stefanelli; Robbie Robinson, Jake La Cava. CJ Dos Santos, Edison Azcona, David Ruiz and Shanyder Borgelin came on in the fourth period.
Inter Miami travel to Sarasota on Tuesday for a few days of training, culminating in a closed-door friendly against the New England Revolution on Thursday. The team returns home to train for a few more weeks and will play three more pre-season games. The regular season begins on February 25 with a home game against CF Montreal.