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Two eminent clubs with a lot of convincing that needs to be done after 2020. While Miami failed to live up to their own hype in their first season — which just so happened to kick-off during a pandemic — the Galaxy’s own starters looked incessantly frustrated week after week.
It’s a new start for both teams, and although Miami are looking like the favorites this weekend, the Galaxy have reason to feel self-assured in their season-opener.
The difference, which could come down to the managers, should be able to push the visiting side to a statement-making win in Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Galaxy for the win (+300)
|Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy Information|
|What||Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy|
|Where||DRV PNK Stadium (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)|
|When||Sunday, April 18th at 3:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||ABC, ESPN Deportes|
In theory, both teams are quite similar.
With celebrity names in their roster for big market cities, there was a sense of real dissatisfaction for both Miami and the Galaxy in 2020.
For Miami, their debut year in MLS was a tumultuous one that featured capricious performances, disappointing results, and an eventual finish at 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. Blessed by a playoff scenario that extended the postseason invitations, Miami made it into a wildcard match-up but were quickly kicked out through a 3-0 loss to Nashville SC in the immediate play-in round.
As for the Galaxy, although they also finished in 10th in their own respective Western Conference, it wasn’t enough to enter the altered playoff setup that only brought in the top eight teams of the conference.
A “failure” is perhaps an understatement for the Galaxy and Miami in their 2020 runs, and looking ahead to the new year, there are no promises that the team that will be hosting Sunday’s match might turn things around.
In comes Phil Neville for Miami. After the exit of manager Diego Alonso, the Floridian side decided to bring in the former manager for England’s women’s national team.
The appointment was met with plenty of criticism. After leaving his previous position with a mediocre run, questions began to surround the 44-year-old with limited managerial experience — and he just so happens to be a friend of David Beckham, who is the president of Miami’s MLS club.
On the Galaxy’s end, they’ll have new manager Greg Vanney. Although Vanney himself is only a couple of years older than Neville, he’ll bring in a wealth of coaching experience that helped claim an MLS Cup title and a Supporters’ Shield in his previous tenure with Toronto FC. In 2017, Vanney was also given the MLS Coach of the Year award.
While it’s easy to highlight Miami’s Gonzalo Higuain, there’s also reason to believe that this could be the year for “Chicharito” Hernandez with the Galaxy.
Brought on in early 2020 as arguably one of the most important signings in the history of the league (and perhaps only second to David Beckham), Hernandez was not only held back by a pause in play due to the pandemic but also because of off-the-field problems in his personal life.
Without diving too much into his complications, the player seems to be in a better state of mind for the new season. In a recent press conference in which he opened up about his own vulnerability as an athlete, Hernandez also came off as quietly confident about the upcoming tournament for the Galaxy.
I don’t know how we can measure how motivated I am, I don’t think there are enough words to tell you how motivated I am, I’m just simply very, very motivated, said Hernandez in the press conference. I think you all can see that in my social media, in my interviews, in the way that I’m trying to improve myself in every aspect in my life.
Expect goals to follow.
That’s the big issue here for Miami. Although their record was fairly similar to that of the Galaxy’s last season, in general, it was tough in 2020 to get a real sense of what the character of the squad was or what the long-term strategy was trying to accomplish.
There was no real consistency for the team, and when considering the roster that they had at their disposal, it was confusing to see them struggle match after match.
Neville has plenty that he must learn in his managerial career and there are no guarantees that he’ll be up for the task of fixing all of the numerous problems Miami had in 2020. And at the very least, he probably won’t be able to do so by the time Sunday’s game kicks off.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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