It looks like Inter Miami could be turning things around.
After a five-game winless streak to kick off the 2022 Major League Soccer season, the South Florida expansion team forced a change to break the pattern and exceed expectations.
Phil Neville’s side first defeated the New England Revolution in a shocking twist, before triumphing 1-0 over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
While the team still has a hefty climb to the top, the two consecutive victories boosted Inter Miami to 13th on the Eastern Conference table, above last-placed D.C. United.
“I think what you saw today was a continuation of the work that’s required to become a good team and the work that’s required to have a real clear identity,” Neville said after the match.
“That’s two wins on the bounce now against the Eastern Conference champions and probably the best team in the Western Conference. So that should give us confidence and give us massive learning and growth to keep believing in that growth of our identity.”
Though the Revolution traveled to DRV PNK without several key players and Seattle played with a heavily-rotated lineup following their Concacaf Champions League semi-final victory, both wins worked to lift Inter Miami spirits.
“This win was a really big one for us,” defender DeAndre Yedlin said.
“I think in this league especially you have to be able to grind out those kind of wins, especially away from home. With this young group, it’s important that they know that we can do that. Now, we’ve done it in a really hard place to play against a good team.”
Following the victory on Saturday, Neville revealed Gonzalo Higuain should return from injury within a week. Though many admit the team looks better without the Designated Player, earning two wins in the two matches he’s sat out, Neville insists he’s a crucial part of Inter Miami.
“We will need him without a shadow of a doubt. This season is really long, this week is going to be a long week. We will need Gonzalo Higuain. I heard him on FaceTime to [Jean] Mota, to Gregore, to Campana before the game, wishing them all the best, cheering them on on the coach on the way to the game. I know that he’s desperate to get back with the team and I know for a fact that we will need him from now until the end of the season,” Neville said.
“He wants to finish this season on a high, so the motivation and the challenge there is probably greater than he’s ever had since he came to Inter Miami. He’s now got competition for places, he now sees a team that’s playing a type of football with certain types of behaviors now that are non-negotiable. And he’s just got to fit into that, which I’m sure he will do.”
But the team cannot lose focus now. Inter Miami faces a busy week, hosting Miami FC for the third round of the U.S Open Cup before welcoming a daunting Atlanta United.
“Now it’s to keep taking it to the other level of scoring goals, attacking football, keeping our identity strong and taking baby steps forward,” Neville said.
“We’ve got seven points. It’s still not enough for where we want to be or where we want to finish, so we just need consistency now in our performances and our results.”