Nico Figal Action Shot vs. PHI 4.24.21

Inter Miami earned its first victory of the season on Saturday, defeating the reigning Supporters’ Shield champion Philadelphia Union 1-2 at Subaru Park. The win saw the Union handed their first regular-season loss at home since 2019 and was marked by a pair of historic goals from the Higuaín brothers. The Higuaíns, however, weren’t the only players to shine for the team. 

The Center Backs

The Argentine duo of Nicolás Figal and Leandro González Pirez in the center of defense made their presence felt throughout the match. This manifested itself in their team-leading numbers in several defensive categories.

Notably, LGP led the match with nine clearances and led the team with seven possession recoveries. Figal, meanwhile, finished tied for second on the team with six possession recoveries, leading the team with three tackles and 11 duels won. Figal and LGP each registered three interceptions as well, tied for second on the team. 

While the pair helped solidify the base of Inter Miami’s defense for the majority of the match, a second-half substitute saw Figal move to right back, where he impacted the proceedings in attack. Figal provided an assist with a left-footed cross to the head of Federico Higuaín for the winner, creating one of the biggest chances of the match. He also played provider on another one of the team’s biggest chances, crossing to the head of Gonzalo Higuaín, whose shot drew a difficult save. In total, Figal led the match with 0.67 xA (Expected Assists), despite only featuring at fullback for the final 11 minutes of the match. 

The Double Pivot

Just like the center of defense, the center of midfield shined for Inter Miami. The pairing of Gregore and Blaise Matuidi once again proved to be an imposing duo as a double pivot, contributing both defensively and with their ball progression.

Gregore involved himself in a game-high 21 total duels, three more than Philadelphia’s leader in the category Kacper Przybylko. He also tied LGP for the team lead with seven possession recoveries.

Going forward, Gregore again showed his ability on the ball, leading the match with six dribbles (four successful) and leading Inter Miami with 86 touches, 46 successful passes, and 32 passes in the opposition half.

Matuidi, meanwhile, tied Gregore’s team-high of 32 passes in the opposition half, while completing an impressive 91% of them. The French World Cup winner also led the team with a total pass accuracy of 83%, while finishing second behind Gregore with 42 total passes.

The Higuaíns 

The match winners, however, were the Higuaín brothers. The Argentine duo registered a goal apiece, becoming the first pair of brothers to score in the same MLS match. 

Gonzalo Higuaín once again led the Inter Miami attack in xG+xA (Expected Goals + Expected Assists) with 0.42, finishing second on the team behind Figal. Just behind Gonzalo in the category was his brother Federico, who managed a total of 0.34 in just 28 minutes on the pitch.