Miami Knocks Union Out!

If you were looking for a tactician or specialist, Mike Tyson was probably not your man. You probably didn’t look to Iron Mike for guidance if you were all about the strategy. Chances are you would probably be more partial to a boxer like Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Mayweather was quite skilled in shoulder rolls, throwing lightning quick jabs to disrupt your flow and timing, then countering with sniper accurate counter blows that often landed true and accrued enough points to get the win and keep the clean sheet in the loss column of his undefeated record. However, if you were looking to end someone in dramatic fashion. If you were looking to spectacularly put your opponent on the canvas and knock them out completely with no need for a standing eight count from the ring referee, then Mike Tyson was who you unquestionably looked up to. Mr. Tyson had a great quote that he eloquently stated in his famous high pitch voice with the raspy delivery and lisp. He succinctly said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” To put it in militaristic terms, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.”


That is exactly what happened Tuesday night when Inter Miami took on the Philadelphia Union, a team who had only lost once at their home field, Subaru Park, since 2022 in a 1 goal difference thriller against Orlando City. Prior to that, the Philadelphia Union had a 24 match home unbeaten streak that was good enough to be third longest in league history and stretched back to the height of the covid pandemic when teams were still playing in empty stadiums. This is a team that was in the MLS Cup final and would have been the defending champs if not for a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss.


Philly is good but Miami is better


The Philadelphia Union are a team known for pressing and putting pressure on your defensive back line, which is usually high risk football for teams like Inter Miami that like to go forward. The Union’s high energy athletic pressing attack usually spells jeopardy for teams like Inter Miami like to hold and possess the ball in a progressive build up from the rear, and make creative triangular passes with lots of inter line movement to break the defensive lines and pull the narrow shape of the defense apart. The Union’s forwards really test the passing and dribbling skills of your center backs and fullbacks.  These positions are considered by some to be a weakness for Inter Miami. The Union often turn you over in dangerous areas and they create overloads in your final third to go from defense to offense in the blink of an eye.


Turnovers in advanced areas of the field turn into lethal short counter attacks that produce many goals and it’s usually highly effective for the Union. There were questions asked about Inter Miami’s ability to withstand that kind of pressure. Everyone knew that Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba are highly skilled dribblers and passers capable of withstanding a press, but the questions about Miller, and Krystov, and Arroyo, and Cremaschi’s ability to break that press if Philly surrounded Busquets and Messi with bodies were ones that still needed to be answered. These were the loud and legitimate questions that Inter Miami answered emphatically within the first 3 minutes of the game when center back Krstov spoke with his chest, sending a bombastic direct pass to center forward Josef Martinez who was onside and streaking down the right wing with pace. Krystov’s pass was so sweet that it bypassed the press that the Union planned on employing altogether and it eliminated the Union’s entire defense in one master stroke. After erasing the Union’s defensive shape the pass found Martinez in stride who clinically stroked the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net and made three time MLS goalkeeper of the year, Andre Blake, looked absolutely silly as he flailed at nothing but air and empty grass while watching the ball pass his outstretched hands and cross the goalline for the opening salvo golazo! Bang!! “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The Philadelphia Union had a plan and in the first 3 minutes of the match Inter Miami punched the Union in the mouth with a haymaker. The Union along with their fans were absolutely stunned and Inter Miami, Heron nation around the world, and the pink shirts in the stands were in absolute dreamland!


Body blows after haymakers


Only 17 minutes later, Inter Miami broke the Union’s press once again when Krystov played another straight-line ball to the feet of Martinez who turned and unleashed an on point pass to Messi before being absolutely hammered on a borderline red card tackle. Thankfully, the referee did not stop the play and allowed Messi to progress up the field because Inter Miami definitely had an attacking advantage. The back line of Philly’s defense now had Messi the goat coming right at them with a head of steam and a mountain of momentum, and it absolutely paralyzed their real time on field assessment abilities, while totally blowing open their pre-game strategy of crowding Messi anytime he had the ball or had a chance of receiving the ball. The defenders continued to back off Leo in case he was looking to pass on a give-and-go and Mr. Messi took full advantage of their indecision by uncorking a wicked left footed rocket that utilized and manipulated the goalkeeper’s poor body positioning. Blake was unsure of what Messi was going to do just like the defenders in front of him, so he decided to take away the easier option by being too far by one step to the near post, when Messi was actually aiming for the more difficult target at the far post. No one on the planet but Ronaldo, Blake, and Messi haters were probably hoping that goal would not go in, but we all knew that it would hit the back of the net. Even though us Messi fans who are familiar with his greatness expected the worldie golazo, our jaws still hit the floor once again as Messi scored his 9th goal in 6 appearances for Inter Miami. The audacity to take that shot, the brilliance to make it! We are witnessing Messi magic in Miami. Bang!! Another punch in the mouth for Philly and this time the Union would never recover.


Comparing stats to reality


Union fans will say their side created 15 chances and Miami only had 5 shots and scored 4 goals from tough spots on the field that according to the advanced metrics should have only yielded 0.6 expected goals. I would say that is why players play on the pitch during the game and numbers are crunched and calculated after the game. Sure, Philly had some good chances, but Drake Callendar had himself a day in goal, making save after save. Inter Miami made some tough shots, but that’s what good talent does.   It makes the difficult seem easy and the impossible seem routine. Robert Taylor’s amazing run into the midfield and then releasing the ball to a streaking Jordi Alba who buried the shot from a wide angle which happened to be from almost the exact same spot that the Philadelphia Union’s Donovan missed an empty netter 25 minutes later in the second half is not about luck. It’s about skill. It’s about Miami turning into Mike Tyson and punching Philly in the mouth to knock them out of their planned strategy and Philly not being able to respond from that initial contact with the enemy. That’s how you knock a team out in the first half of their home game. That’s how you knock the reigning MLS cup runner up out of the semifinal of a continental pro club tournament even though we are technically still at the bottom of the standings in league play. With that said Miami is on to the final this Saturday and the fans in Nashville are already singing “We Want Messi!” I am sure that Messi and Miami are happy to oblige and see Nashville and their fans are truly ready for all of this pink popped smoke. Vamos Miami!



Leave a Replay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


Hello fellow sports fans! My name is Joseph Jordan. Welcome to our page. Welcome to our website. I hope you are as deeply passionate about sports as I am. Julien and I have spent a lot of time writing our sports opinions on Facebook over the years. … Read More>>


Follow Us

Your The Sports. Your Inbox. Everyday