By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (May 12, 2023) US Soccer Players – One of Major League Soccer’s recurring lessons, taught every season to clubs that seem to forget it as soon as they learn it, is “Things are rarely as bad as they seem.” A more direct way to state the same lesson as an imperative is “Don’t panic.”
Both CF Montreal and Inter Miami enter Matchday 12 carrying winning streaks. Those streaks represent dramatic reversals from the clubs’ previous form when losses were piling up.
Montreal lost its first three matches of the season, all away, scoring zero goals in the process. A dramatic win over a 10-man Philadelphia Union team on Matchday 4 brightened spirits, but the club immediately followed it up with three more losses in a row. Included in that run were a 5-0 defeat against the Whitecaps and a 4-0 loss to New England.
But things have gotten better. Whether because the team is adapting to its new high-pressing tactical approach in the first season under coach Hernan Losada, hired on December 21, or because of tweaks he’s made to his lineup, CF Montreal is climbing the table. The club is on a three-game winning streak, hosting Toronto on Saturday.
One lineup change, in particular, is a significant factor in Montreal’s turnaround. Aaron Herrera’s move from center back to wingback in Losada’s 3-4-3 formation coincided with the winning streak. Since moving up in the formation from outright defender to a wide attacking option, Herrera has collected two assists and been consistently influential up the field for Montreal.
Herrera moved to Quebec in December when CF Montreal acquired him from Real Salt Lake for a package that included $500,000 in general allocation money, a sell-on fee, a 2023 international roster spot, and a 2023 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick. The 25-year-old Herrera spent five years in Utah, known as one of the better fullbacks in MLS.
RSL only occasionally played a three-back system during Herrera’s time with the club. Herrera most often played as a traditional fullback, capable of jumping into the attack up the flank when required, but first and foremost asked to defend.
Herrera collected 11 assists in 29 appearances in 2021 with Real Salt Lake, showing what he could do offensively. As strong a defender as he might be, his best position in Losada’s system looks to be at wingback.
Inter Miami has won two MLS games in a row, along with a pair of US Open Cup wins. The club lost six straight matches following two wins to start the season, ratcheting up the pressure.
A pair of goals for Josef Martinez, his first as a member of Inter Miami, pushed the club to a win over Atlanta United on Saturday. One of those goals came from the penalty spot. DeAndre Yedlin set up the other from open play. The assist was Yedlin’s first of the year and fifth since arriving ahead of the 2022 season.
Yedlin is a fixture in the Inter Miami, starting all but one match this season. Already a team leader, Yedlin took on the role officially as captain when midfielder Gregore suffered a foot injury and was ruled out for six months. With a team around him shifting and changing because of injury and roster moves, Yedlin’s status as a regular presence in the lineup is crucial for club continuity.
Inter Miami coach Phil Neville’s tactics for making in-game adjustments, moving players, and changing formations makes Yedlin’s ability to adapt an asset. Like Herrera in Montreal, Yedlin has played as both a fullback in a back four and as a wingback when Inter Miami plays with three center backs.
A massive challenge awaits on Saturday for Yedlin and Inter Miami to keep the streak going in league play. Neville and company can claim plaudits from wins over two teams currently sitting in the playoff places in the Eastern Conference, Columbus and Atlanta, but the New England Revolution are something different.
New England is in 1st-place in the East and has lost just once this season. The Revs have an array of attacking options and an approach that makes beating them extremely difficult. When New England gets a lead, they know how to kill a game. The challenge gives Miami a chance to show that the team that lost six straight is long gone.
Even though things seemed bad and the way back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference wasn’t clear, a pair of strong performances were enough to change the outlook on the season. Neither Montreal nor Miami let the panic set in. Now both teams have a chance to use winning streaks as platforms for better things in 2023.
Jason Davis is the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM.
More From Jason Davis:
- Steffen’s Middlesbrough, Gooch’s Sunderland, and Horvath’s Luton Town in the 2022-23 Championship playoffs
- The Red Bulls defense still points to a potential turnaround
- DC United’s win streak is about the right mix of players
- The USMNT connection with four USL clubs in the third round of the 2023 US Open Cup
Photo by Atlanta United