Inter Miami CF Supporters Groups the Siege and Vice City 1896 Talk 2021 Season
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Vice City 1896 supporters during Inter Miami CF’s home game against the LA Galaxy.
Photo by Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images
Inter Miami CF took a break last week. Major League Soccer Club broke the seal of its true inaugural season on April 18 by losing two separate leads to its nationally televised opener against LA Galaxy – the former club of Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham – with MLS- Commissioner Don Garber and several losing notable guests (see: Tom Brady and Pharrell Williams) in attendance.
Luckily for Inter Miami, the fledgling club managed to take a break and flew well below the radar of world football headlines – the team’s loss took place during the short, tense lifespan of the now-you-see-it, now-you- Don’t take the European Super League.
Despite losing to their hometown fans, Inter Miami made up for it in week two with a gruff 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. After two games with a 1-1 draw, Inter Miami’s opening campaign remains a drama.
There seems to be a lot of uncertainty about one of the league’s newest organizations as the MLS kicks off its 26th season. The sophomore club will certainly try to beat their 7-3-13 record during the shortened season in the 2020 bubble format.
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Inter Miami is drawing a lot of attention for a sophomore expansion club. This is largely due to the presence of the aforementioned Beckham, whose ambition to bring a championship-level club to Miami dates back to 2013. The former English footballer, who played for LA Galaxy from 2007 to 2012, is without a doubt the de facto face of the organization, despite four co-owners in Marcelo Claure, Jorge and José Mas and Masayoshi Son.
Some of this uncertainty could also be attributed to the club’s proposed Freedom Park Stadium. The project remains pending as club and city officials figure out who should pay the (very high) likely costs associated with cleaning up the toxic waste site in Miami’s Grapeland Heights area where the proposed stadium complex is to be built.
Inter Miami may have to get even closer to the top of the MLS table in 2021, but at least it’s backed by a small but dedicated (and growing) fan base. The club managed to set a record in the DRV PNK stadium by playing for the game on 18.
After Inter Miami’s impressive comeback win in Philadelphia last Saturday, the New Times spoke to leaders of two of the football club’s official support groups – Max Ramos of the Siege and Sebastian Moraga of Vice City 1896 – to assess their thoughts on the season ahead.
New Times: Two games in its official inaugural season, Inter Miami even stands with one win and one loss. What have been your observations so far?
Sebastian Moraga: This year’s team has already improved a lot after two games compared to last year’s team. They play a more intense and offensive football than they got used to last year defending and chasing the ball for 90 minutes. This year we’re dictating more of the game and controlling the ball.
Max Ramos: The team looks definitely better compared to last season – overall better form, the defense is improving a bit and the attack is better worldwide. Robbie Robinson looks like he fits in very well compared to his age. [Joevin] Jones and [Kelvin] Leerdam are extremely welcome additions.
How do you rate the leadership qualities of head coach Phil Neville so far?
Moraga: You can feel the change in leadership compared to last year. I think it helps that Phil can communicate with Spanish speakers as last year some of the players had to act as translators between the staff and the other players. I think it plays a role in how Phil can lead this team and how much the players can buy into the coaching staff and the way they play.
Ramos: I think his ability to spot mistakes in players and even himself is showing. From game one to game two there was even more convenience in this regard. The fact that the team lost to Philly in the second half, rather than refusing, was a huge relief. And that comes from the manager.
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The victories followers
Courtesy photo of the siege
The club lost two separate leads in the season opener against LA Galaxy, only to eventually lose the game. The players also looked a bit rough and maybe even exaggerated for the first half against Philadelphia Union, which had hardly any scoring chances until after half time. Do you see these accomplishments as growing pains for a new team / season?
Moraga: Yes, keep in mind that the team has not yet played a full season and has yet to play against most of the teams in the league. The pace and level of MLS are new to most teams, so there are still things they need to grow on, but that will come over time.
Ramos: The first game was tough. The heat definitely seemed to be reaching them. The lack of preseason reruns due to the COVID-19 protocol and the cancellation seemed to affect her. I think that will improve as the season progresses.
Does the fact that the club’s home stadium is in Fort Lauderdale, rather than Miami, for at least a year or two detract from a new franchise’s ability to grow its fan base?
Moraga: At first glance, I think yes this could hurt the team’s potential for growth, but as long as they’re getting results on the field I don’t think they’re going to have any trouble growing their fan base. I mean, look at the pictures of the grandstands with a limited stadium for the home opener.
Ramos: I don’t think so. The club has apparently become more apparent from the South Florida scene. For the Miami-based supporters, it is of course a challenge to [DRV PNK Stadium]but the club was worth the drive. Also, one must not forget that the pandemic has delayed efforts very well. The conversations are simple: we want and believe in them [Miami Freedom Park] Project; the association does it too. I definitely believe it will be resolved in 2021.
Thoughts on the new kits for this season?
Moraga: The new shirt is beautiful. It’s a lot lighter and more comfortable than last year. I keep telling people that the black and pink combo is the best color combination in the league, but I may also be a little biased. Besides, we haven’t lost in the new black jersey yet, so there’s something good about that.
Ramos: La Palma is definitely iconic compared to other teams in the league. I love the colors, the name, etc. I would like more pink, but we can do it.
Do you feel that the club is doing a good job connecting with the Latin American communities in Miami and the South Florida area?
Moraga: I think they’re doing a good job. You could make it even better by really immersing yourself in the Latino-heavy communities around Miami. That will come in time. I think they have done a great job so far.
Ramos: It does a phenomenal job. This is the only team in the region that works bilingual from top to bottom. The nickname, La RosaNegra [the pink-and-black logo color scheme], tells you where this team is aligning its culture. That will only increase as the games become more accessible to the public and the team wins more.
Inter Miami CF returns this Sunday May 2nd with an away game against Nashville SC, followed by a home game against Atlanta United FC on Sunday May 9th.