Just getting here and competing in the MLS was a long journey for Inter Miami, even with the enthusiasm of co-owner and club founder, former Manchester United and England icon David Beckham. Following a difficult inaugural 2020 campaign, The Herons are keen to keep improving.
After being lured to the MLS from Real Madrid in 2007, Beckham instantly became a huge marketing and sporting success in the United States, particularly during his last two seasons. Joined in the Los Angeles Galaxy team by Republic of Ireland international Robbie Keane, they achieved back to back MLS Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2012.
As part of his original MLS contract, Beckham was offered the opportunity to buy his own MLS expansion team. This was an option he exercised early in 2014, whilst also hopeful the new club would be up and running by 2016. After lengthy delays getting the Miami Freedom Park stadium venue approved, which will be ready in 2022, it was announced that Inter Miami would start their inaugural season in 2020, based out of Fort Lauderdale.
Putting the pieces in play
#InterMiamiCF officially brought fútbol back to South Florida in 2020 with its inaugural season in @MLS.— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) November 26, 2020
We look back at the best moments from the Club’s first season, an inaugural campaign unlike any other.https://t.co/6vFl4wgvsF
Former Uruguay international Diego Alonso was appointed as head coach at the end of December 2019, following successful spells in Mexico. At his recommendation, Mexican international midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro was signed for $12 million, along with talented young Argentine Matías Pellegrini as the two designated players.
The backbone of the squad was formed with a mixture of experienced MLS veterans and USA internationals, including Wil Trapp, Brek Shea, and Lee Nguyen. The rest of the team was made up of interesting American, Canadian, and various international prospects. Nevertheless, gelling all these components as a cohesive unit was always going to be tricky.
After the regular season was temporarily halted, the MLS is Back Tournament provided teams the opportunity to get back in action. The opening encounter was an all-Floridian affair, although Inter Miami went down 2-1 against Orlando City. The Herons also lost their two remaining group phase games, against Philadelphia Union and New York City, meaning it was back to the drawing board for Alonso and his coaching staff.
Welcoming experienced new arrivals
Immediately after their participation at the MLS is Back Tournament was concluded, Inter Miami turned their attention to signing marquee players that had been difficult to sign earlier in the year. In August the club landed former France international Blaise Matuidi from Italian outfit Juventus. He was later accompanied from the Turin side by Gonzalo Higuain, an Argentine international striker with a wealth of European experience. The two players appear to have left at the right time as Juventus’ hold on Serie A looks to be slipping with Milan currently leading the charge to overthrow them, although their city rivals Inter are the team most expected to achieve this with odds of +200 in the Serie A winner outright market at Betway. However, Juventus have a habit of catching up and overtaking the quick starters. Either way, Higuain and Matuidi look more than happy to be in a new stage of their career.
Gonzalo Higuain played for the very best in Europe.— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 18, 2020
Next stop, Miami 🔥 pic.twitter.com/uNb0k7QELX
Performances improved with the vastly experienced duo in the team, as the quality of soccer being played improved. However, consistency remained a problem and the team wasn’t picking up enough wins and weren’t able to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs. In the end, the team finished 19th out of 26 in the overall table, although looking ahead to next season, Inter Miami will be one of the teams to watch based on their intelligent squad building approach, which is likely to see them climb up the table.
Federico Higuain joined his brother at the club in October, adding some family flavor at the club, while further additions are expected in the winter transfer window, ahead of the new MLS campaign which begins next year. They will be hoping to imitate Atlanta United who won the MLS Cup in their second season rather than going the way of FC Cincinnati as have struggled to find their feet in the league after two seasons.
The Herons fishing for big-name players
Planning ahead for the 2021 MLS campaign, all the competing teams will be keen to strengthen their squads. Given the impact of Gonzalo Higuain raising MLS brand awareness, Inter Miami have already shown their desire to sign players who are already famed on the international stage. Beckham will undoubtedly be scouring his network of contacts, eager to attract more star names to the cause.
Rumors in Europe have linked Olivier Giroud as the priority target for Inter Miami, given the 34-year-old striker is currently considering his options at English Premier League side Chelsea. Should they pull off that ambitious move, the club would have two former FIFA World Cup winners in the squad, with Giroud and Matuidi part of the side which swept to success at Russia 2018.
Big-name players are always appealing, yet the club is also focused on securing talented prospects. Inter Miami will continue a policy of searching for the best young domestic talents, along with casting their net for development players in South America. Beckham is keen for his club to have a subtle mix of experience and youthful talent, as the project continues to lay positive foundations for the future.