The Philadelphia Union is 1-0-0, sitting up on top of the Eastern Conference. With one league win under its belt, the Union now faces three games in the next eight days, the first of which comes at DRV PNK Stadium against Inter Miami CF.
We reached out to Ian Hest and the gang at The Heron Outlet to get the scoop on Miami ahead of the Union’s matchup on Saturday night.
Philadelphia Soccer Now: One game, one win. How did Inter Miami look against Montreal on Saturday?
Ian Hest: It was the perfect start of the season, actually Inter Miami’s first time winning the opening match. 2022 Goalkeeper of the Year Finalist Drake Callender came up big with 6 saves, several very impressive. Take with that what you will about the defense allowing those opportunities at all but it was a good performance with 5 new players including 3 starters introduced for the first time. Miami feel very good about the clean sheet and scoring multiple goals without their DP striker Leo Campana.
PSN: Josef Martinez was one of the biggest offseason moves of 2023 when he went to Miami. How did the former Atlanta star look, and what do you think he’ll contribute this season?
IH: He’s getting there bit by bit but it’s a long process. It’s clear he’s not 100% fit yet and was subbed off in the 68th minute after not contributing much, just one shot and only 15 touches. He clearly missed Campana who will need to work together a lot this year for both to be successful. No cause for concern but he will definitely look to improve his form in games to come.
PSN: Outside of Martinez, who else should Union fans watch on the pitch? Who will stand out for Inter on Saturday?
IH: If Campana can go, he’ll be the primary target up top. But Miami has fallen in love with this 4-4-2 diamond that really operates as a 4-3-1-2 and highlights the central midfield fortitude of Brazilians Jean Mota and Gregore and has them solidify the central part of the park allowing the wingbacks Deandre Yedlin and new addition Franco Negri to fly up the wide areas.
PSN: Will Miami have any notable absences? What are your score and lineup predictions?
IH: Campana’s calf is the big question. I would say it’s 50/50, maybe less likely, that he starts on Saturday. Midfielder Robert Taylor has also been in Finland finalizing his Green Card and his return is much awaited. I think it’s safe to predict at this point Inter Miami will go with the same XI that started the year against Montreal in that 4-3-1-2, and will be fine with a 1-1 draw.