Inter Miami-Atlanta United Preview

Sports

The “great news” Diego Alonso was waiting for landed on Friday as Gonzalo Higuain was confirmed as an Inter Miami player ahead of their match against Atlanta United.

David Beckham’s Inter are building an ambitious team in their first season in MLS and have added striker Higuain to a group already including former Juventus team-mate Blaise Matuidi and Mexico international Rodolfo Pizarro.

Alonso addressed the media on Thursday as Higuain went through the formalities of his deal, with the Argentina international then discussing an exciting future as the deal was announced the following day.

“The team’s style of play caught my attention,” said Higuain, whose brother Federico plays for DC United.

“The team always tries to play and create goalscoring opportunities, which also motivated me to come here.

“It’s a team in construction but there is already a good base to reach important goals, and I think we’re going to achieve that.”

Next opponents Atlanta are looking for a similar boost with the recruitment of a new Designated Player after Higuain’s compatriot Pity Martinez departed.

Interim coach Stephen Glass said: “I see the reports of a new player coming on.

“I know the club are working on one and hope something happens pretty soon that will help the group.”

But Glass is adamant Atlanta, who have won just once since March, are not suffering a confidence crisis.

“It’s something that gets leveled at us at the moment from outside the club,” he said. “I see people saying that the club is struggling, the team is struggling, the confidence is low.

“I work with this group of players every day and there’s a real belief that it’s going to turn and it’s going to change.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Atlanta United – Ezequiel Barco

Pity Martinez’s exit left Atlanta with just one active DP, rather than two, as namesake Josef remains out with injury. With the 2018 champions in need of a result, it is surely time Barco stepped up. The 21-year-old has bags of talent but has only contributed 10 goals and nine assists across three years.

Inter Miami – Robbie Robinson

Higuain is unlikely to come straight into the side, but it is now or never for number one draft pick Robinson. Prolific at college level, the striker has found life tougher in MLS, failing to score so far, although Glass has stood by him in recent weeks.

KEY OPTA FACTS

— This will be the third meeting between Atlanta and Inter over the course of 17 days, with Miami taking four points from the first two meetings. The scoreless draw between the teams in the first week of September is the expansion team’s only away point in MLS so far.

— Atlanta have just 11 points from their first 11 matches this season, four fewer than they have ever had at this stage of a season (15 in 2017). They had already reached the 20-point mark in each of the previous two seasons.

— Inter have managed just two goals in their five away matches this season (excluding MLS is Back).

— Jeff Larentowicz scored one of Atlanta’s two goals in their loss at Nashville last Saturday. Larentowicz has now scored in 14 different MLS seasons dating back to 2006 (did not score last season).

— Pizarro has been directly involved in six of Miami’s nine MLS goals (three goals, three assists), including three of the past four (one goal, two assists).

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