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Suárez or Campana? Inter Miami could try new look vs. Orlando City | MLSSoccer.com

Suárez or Campana? Inter Miami could try new look vs. Orlando City | MLSSoccer.com

What is Inter Miami CF’s best lineup? Or rather, what’s their ideal forward group to maximize Lionel Messi’s transcendent skills?

Head coach Tata Martino and his staff are likely debating that question in the early stages of their 2024 season, doubly so with Saturday’s high-stakes rivalry match vs. Orlando City SC looming (4:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass, FOX).

And the answers could rest on Leonardo Campana’s shoulders, not Luis Suárez. The “This is MLS” show explained further before the Florida Derby returns to Chase Stadium – pointing to Campana’s substitute appearance in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at LA Galaxy.

“This is a team that is very methodical and the issue is they are getting nothing from Suárez,” said analyst Taylor Twellman. “That’s not a hot take. Luis Suárez is barely running on two legs, he’s barely getting that knee ready to play every single game.

“And you can see it. Campana comes on and a light switch comes on. Now all of a sudden you’ve got [Jordi] Alba further advanced, they’ve got mobility through the middle, [Julian] Gressel has a pep in his step. It’s just natural. They’re too slow for me. I think there’s a concern.”

That’s not to dismiss Suárez, a generational forward in his own right who joined Inter Miami this winter to form a Big Four of ex-FC Barcelona stars alongside Messi, Alba and Sergio Busquets. And just last year Suárez was named the Best Player and Best Striker in the Brazilian league after tallying 26g/17a in 53 matches for Grêmio.

But Campana, an Ecuador international with 20g/5a in 52 matches across the past two seasons for Inter Miami, brings a different look.

“Messi drops deep, Suárez drops deep to pick up the ball,” said analyst Sacha Kljestan. “The player who makes the most runs in behind right now is Jordi Alba. That’s your left back who’s also 34 years old. He still has a motor and is fantastic, but they need some young players to be able to run in behind.

Diego Gómez has to do so much work and so much running all over the field to cover for Messi and Suárez. But when you see Campana come into the game and the ball gets in the final third, at least now you have somebody in the box willing to make runs, trying to get on the end of plays.”

What’s certain is Inter Miami will need big-time minutes from both Suárez and Campana this year. And Messi, who’s created or finished all three of the Herons’ goals this season, has magic in his boots.

With that formula, Calen Carr believes Inter Miami have the edge over Orlando.

“I think these guys are overcomplicating it with Miami, I honestly do,” Carr said. “When you think of game-breakers you have Drake Callender, who people were concerned about in the preseason. You can see when the matches start and they matter, he steps up in a big way. And then you have in case of emergency, as it was against LA, Lionel Messi finds a way.

“I think that’s enough of a recipe to continue forward and I probably give them the edge just over Orlando, although I do think it’s close.”

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