Inter Miami Spotlight: Gregore set to cap MVP-type first season
The Brazilian midfielder has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in 2021, transforming from relative unknown to midfield lynchpin and team captain
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — There have not been too many positives for Inter Miami this season, but team captain Gregore has been one significant bright spot after transforming from relative unknown to arguably the best player on the squad.
Inter Miami is set to wrap up a disappointing 2021 campaign on Sunday afternoon by visiting Supporters’ Shield winners the New England Revolution, and the game will serve as an opportunity for Gregore to punctuate what has overall been an impressive first year in MLS for him. The Brazilian midfielder arrived in the spring as a well-regarded but largely unknown commodity, and all he has done since then is put up one of if not the top individual showings for the Herons.
“I think he has been our best player, I think he has been our most consistent player,” Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville told Miami Total Futbol. “I made him captain because of his personality. You want someone that mirrors you as a coach, and he mirrors all the qualities that I see in terms of the way he links all nationalities.
“He is a very diverse person. He does not just go and sit with his own nationalities. He sits with everybody. He has got a great personality.”
While you are just as likely to see Gregore make it a point to go over and greet coaches at the start of practice sessions with a smile as you are to see him deliver a crunching tackle to an opponent on the field, it is that latter toughness that has come to categorize him in his career and first year with Inter Miami.
That said, the 27-year-old defensive midfielder’s qualities off the field may just be as important as the ones he has on it. After all, the seriousness and professionalism with which he attacks so many aspects of the day-to-day preparation is part of why Neville named Gregore captain a mere four months after the player joined the team.
“When you become captain you have more responsibility to keep the teammates motivated in the day to day at training and being a positive voice, and in the games as well,” Gregore told Miami Total Futbol in Portuguese. “I demand in how I do things. You cannot demand and then not do things the right way, so you have to do that first in order to then be able to talk to the players. Being captain just requires me to work more and more.”
Of course, earning the armband as part of a midseason shakeup is one thing. Earning the respect of your peers is another, especially as a relative newcomer in a locker room that has some big personalities and players with experience competing at the sport's highest levels.
Gregore has seemingly managed to do just that, however, with his businesslike but personable demeanor. He is not the type of leader to overtly shout or be overly vocal or critical, preferring instead to lead by example with his habits.
“My style is to talk when I need to talk, when it is necessary, and also when I see that several others have spoken and it is my turn to speak,” said Gregore about his leadership style. “But I prefer to lead more by doing and demonstrating.”
In that regard, Gregore has done his share. He has provided the South Florida side with the type of tenacity and work rate in the center of the park that the team was missing in its expansion season in 2020. What’s more, Gregore has been reliable despite not having a proper preseason or vacation since leaving Bahia in Brazil, starting in each of the 28 MLS games he has played in under Neville.
“I am not very good at doing a self-analysis, but I think I have adapted well,” said Gregore, who is taking classes to learn English. “I feel confident, the whole staff and Phil have given me a lot of confidence and helped me a lot, but I think I can do more. This is my first year and there was an adaptation period and now I know the league.
“… I think next year with a full preseason and knowing more about the style of the league, I think I can do much more to help Inter Miami.”
So too can practically everyone else. Inter Miami heads into Sunday’s season finale against the New England Revolution already eliminated from playoff contention and destined for an 11th-placed finish in the Eastern Conference. The campaign has fallen well below expectations.
Still, there are some building blocks for the team to plan around in what is sure to be an offseason of significant change. Gregore appears to be one of them after delivering a strong first impression to his time in MLS with Inter Miami.
“If you ask any staff member which player in this team would you put at No. 1 in terms of their character and their personality, they all said Gregore,” said Neville. “He is impressive in the way that nothing phases him, he is brave as a lion, he is very respectful, and I think he definitely has been our MVP this year.”