Inter Miami, in dire need of good news after mounting suspensions and a pair of lopsided home losses, got some Monday.
The club’s appeal of Gregore’s second yellow card against Nashville last week was unanimously supported by the league’s Independent Review Panel. As a result, his discipline for that card will be rescinded.
Gregore is still suspended for the road game against Atlanta United on Wednesday due to yellow card accumulation. His first yellow card, in the 75th minute of the match, was his 11th accumulated yellow card of the season. But he will be eligible to return Sunday against Portland because the expulsion for the second yellow card in the 86th minute was deemed unwarranted.
The captain’s return one game early is welcome news for a Miami team that has been decimated by injuries and suspensions of late. Center back Nico Figal remains suspended and will miss a second consecutive game on Wednesday. He will return for the Portland game.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was suspended for the Nashville game but will be back in the lineup Wednesday against his former team.
Center backs Ryan Shawcross and Ventura Alvarado are both out long term with injuries. Shawcross had back surgery and will need six to seven months of recovery, according to coach Phil Neville. The former Stoke City defender had recurring back spasms, pain injections did not work, so he opted for surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
Midfielder Victor Ulloa, who has missed the past three games with a quad strain, was having tests done Monday and is unlikely to play Wednesday. He might return on Sunday against Portland. Ian Fray, the 19-year-old promising defender who tore his ACL during preseason camp, has returned to training.
Higuains, Matuidi skip practice
Because of the thin roster and grueling week ahead, Neville decided to rest several players on Monday. Gonzalo and Federico Higuain missed training, as did Blaise Matuidi and Jay Chapman. Neville said they trained hard over the weekend and he wanted them to conserve energy for the two road games and long travel to Portland.
“When we’ve had two really hard days, my experience says the senior players, particularly the ones over 30, are due some recovery days,” Neville said. “They will come back [Tuesday]. They’re used to that kind of program. Blaise and Jay are fit, and we literally can’t afford to have more bumps in that area. We can’t afford to take any risks. Jay has been working hard and he’s going to be important in the next few games.”
USL players push veterans
Training sessions have been lively in recent days as nine or 10 players from the club’s USL team, Fort Lauderdale SC, were called up to practice with the first team. Among them, 6-6 draft pick Aime Mabika, Harvey (son of Phil) Neville, Mitchell Curry, and Romeo (son of David) Beckham.
“We brought a bunch of players up from USL to train with us, and they’ll be with us from now to the end of the season,” Phil Neville said. “They’ve brought a massive amount of energy. There’s a real togetherness in that young group and they really push the senior players.”
Pizarro on pairing with Higuain
One of the few memorable Inter Miami plays from the 5-1 loss to Nashville was Gonzalo Higuain’s goal, which came off a timely Rodolfo Pizarro assist. Neville said he is looking for the two marquee players to link up more and produce more goals in the coming weeks.
Pizarro, who played mostly in the center of the attack before Higuain’s arrival, said he has had to adapt his game to best complement and connect with Higuain.
“Gonzalo likes to drop back for the ball and not wait in the box, so a lot of times I have to go to the left or find somewhere else to make sure we don’t end up in the same space,” Pizarro said. “Little by little we have improved on that, but still sometimes we occupy the same space and that’s what we have to change and fix.”