Inter Miami

Phil Neville insists Inter Miami can go all the way in MLS

Chris Smith
Neville's Inter Miami have enjoyed a turnaround in form.
Neville's Inter Miami have enjoyed a turnaround in form. / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After taking just one point from their opening five games of the 2022 MLS season, Phil Neville's Inter Miami side have dragged themselves off the floor, losing just two of their last nine.

The Herons made it back-to-back wins with a 2-1 victory at home to the Portland Timbers on Saturday thanks to goals from Leonardo Campana and Robert Taylor. It was another hard-earned three points, and a result that moves Miami up to seventh in the East - the final MLS Cup Playoff spot.

But while outsiders are looking on in wonder at Miami's turnaround and the Florida side sitting above the Playoff line, head coach Neville believes this is exactly where they belong.

“I challenged them before the game about the belief I have in them, but sometimes the belief that they don’t have in themselves,” Neville said after Saturday's win. “And I see them as a playoff team. Tonight was that step to the playoffs I felt. It was a pivotal moment.”

Neville is behind his players 100 percent. Whether it's new-found goalscoring sensation Campana, industrious Brazilian midfield duo Gregore and Jean Mota, or solid center-back Damion Lowe, there is a belief in the dugout that this roster even has enough to go all the way.

“Five, six weeks ago I told them I wanted to win the league,” Neville said. “And sometimes you’ve got to set the bar that high that maybe they didn’t believe it. I did because I believed in them. And they looked at me in a funny way, which they normally do anyway. But I wanted to set the expectation really high.”

Perhaps most impressive about Miami's recent unbeaten run is the teams they've been picking up points against. Though they're struggling this season, the Timbers were MLS Cup runners-up last year, while the likes of New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union are riding high near the top of the East.

None of them managed to overwhelm Inter Miami.

“The teams that we’ve played over the last three, four, five weeks have been some of the top teams,” Neville added. “I’d say that there’s no team I’ve thought they’re miles better than us, they’re better than us. We can compete with every team. We’ve got players that I see can compete with the best in the league, and that’s what I’ve told them today.”

After an extended rest across the international break, Inter Miami will test themselves away at Atlanta United on June 19.