Inter Miami continued its team-record unbeaten run on Sunday with a thrilling late victory over Eastern Conference opponents Nashville SC, scoring a 95th minute winner at DRV PNK Stadium. The winning goal may have come in the final minute of the match, but several top performers helped lead Inter Miami to the victory over the course of the 90+ minutes.
Indiana Vassilev & Federico Higuaín Lead Impressive Bench Unit
“We knew that substitutions were going to win the game for us. Federico [Higuaín] and Indiana [Vassilev] changed the game. Brek [Shea] added energy on the left hand side...Ryan [Shawcross] came on and sured it up, and Victor [Ulloa] came on and was just Victor. So I am super proud.”
That was the view of head coach Phil Neville following the win, and the statistics seemed to back up his claim. Most notably, Federico Higuaín and Indiana Vassilev combined for the winner in the 95th minute, with Higuaín providing a pinpoint delivery to the head of a leaping Vassilev in the box.
Vassilev, who came on in the 55th minute and scored the winner in the 95th, was a regular force driving the ball forward for the hosts, with four progressive carries, three carries into the final third and one carry into the box. The young attacking player was also efficient with his actions, completing 16 of his 17 passes, with 15 of those passes coming in the opposition half.
Federico Higuaín, meanwhile, came on in the 65th minute and played provider. In just about 30 minutes on the pitch, he racked up three key passes, tied for the most of any player in the match. He also tallied an xA (expected assists) total of 0.25, the second-most of any player in the match behind only Blaise Matuidi. In total, the older Higuaín brother completed 14 of his 16 passes, nearly matching Vassilev’s efficiency.
Blaise Matuidi Does it All
The French midfielder slotted into the midfield, where he was able to dominate proceedings with a standout showing in all facets. Most notably, Matuidi provided the assist on Inter Miami’s first goal, sliding a through ball between defenders and into the feet of Gonzalo Higuaín in the box.
Matuidi’s contributions didn’t stop there, however, as he made his presence felt throughout the match. The midfielder had the fourth-most touches of any Inter Miami player and completed the second-most passes, successfully finding a teammate with 64 of his 67 attempts for the second-best pass completion percentage on the team behind Lewis Morgan.
The midfielder also helped solidify the team’s defensive efforts, recovering possession seven times, the second-most on Inter Miami, including three interceptions, which led the team.
Center Back Trio Stands Firm
Inter Miami once again trotted out a starting XI with three center backs, this time featuring a unit of Leandro González Pirez, Nicolás Figal and Christian Makoun. The trio proved stout defensively, limiting Nashville to just two shots on target and 0.6 xG (expected goals).
Each of the three individuals seemed to lead the way in different fields for Inter Miami. Notably, LGP appeared to be at his combative best, involving himself in a game-high 15 duels and winning two thirds of them, and recovering possession 11 times, also the most of any player in the match.
Figal also won two thirds of his duels, involving himself in 11, while leading the team with three clearances and recovering possession five times.
Makoun, meanwhile, also recovered possession five times, but stood out even more in possession of the ball. The Venezuelan defender comfortably led the match with 95 touches (10 more than LGP in second), 85 total passess (18 more than LGP in second), and 76 successful passes (12 more than Matuidi in second). Makoun even led the match with 43 passes in the opposition half (two more than Gregore in second) despite playing as a center back.
Pizarro Shines in Full Return
Rodolfo Pizarro returned to Inter Miami’s starting XI for the first time since he departed for the Concacaf Gold Cup and shined in his 65 minutes of play. The Mexican midfielder was sharp with his passing on the day, completing 40 of his 42 passes, 35 of which came in the opposition half, and including a few of notable difficulty.
Pizarro also consistently made himself an outlet for his teammates, receiving a game-high 12 progressive passes.
* Data collected from MLS, Opta, and FBref.com