Inter Miami CF is now officially official, existing not only in imaginations but also on soccer pitches across the nation. Despite two tight losses — to Los Angeles FC and D.C. United — it's clear that, at the very least, Inter Miami doesn't plan to spend its inaugural season being the homecoming match for MLS teams on a weekly basis. It's got some fight and the personality of a team that Miamians should be proud of, especially so early in its existence.
Although the team has begun the season 0-0-2, Inter has given fans a reason to believe this is a squad that shows great potential. That much was proven by the franchise's first goal — an in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time chip by Rodolfo Pizarro, one of the team's best-known players — less than two minutes into Saturday's match against D.C. United.
Inter Miami, this is your Charlie Hough moment. Pizzaro is your Rony Seikaly. He'll forever be remembered as the man associated with the beginning of something bound to grow bigger than anyone could imagine.
Manager Diego Alonso also has proven to be a good fit for the club thus far. He has shown he's unafraid of any team or situation: He pressed the squad forward even after it fell down a man owing to a red card against D.C. For much of the time Inter played ten men against 11, Alonso's strategy was to sub in an offensive player rather than a defensive one at a time when most managers might opt to cover themselves.
It's tough to complain about the way Inter has represented Miami so far. It's been a lot of fun — more so than most people imagined. Chris Wittyngham — a local up-and-coming media personality and University of Miami graduate who works for the Dolphins Radio Network — called the Inter Miami-D.C. United game for the TUDN USA network. In an interview with New Times, he gave his thoughts about Miami's performance in its first two outings.
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"The thing I find most positive is the defenses. It's usually the thing MLS clubs find hardest to find because, for the most part, they spend their money on the attack," Wittyngham said. "They've got three quality center backs in [Jorge] Figal, [Andrés] Reyes, and [Roman] Torres, the red card notwithstanding. They've been undone by world-class quality from [Los Angeles FC winger] Carlos Vela and five minutes of losing their heads in D.C."
After the game against D.C. United, Miami defender Ben Sweat told MLS.com that Inter Miami doesn't plan to play it safe or shoot for games that look close in the boxscore — the players are in it to win it.
"I think there's a stigma with expansion teams, and maybe some expansion teams maybe live up to that, that averageness. And we're not going to settle for that," he said. "We're not going to make excuses. Diego and the coaching staff want to win. We want to win. We have a great group of guys, so we're going to go out and compete for every game."
Inter Miami is still looking for its first win on the field, but it has already won the attention of many curious South Floridians. The team's next game is against the LA Galaxy this Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at Inter's temporary home in Fort Lauderdale. Here's hoping all of Miami's hard work, grittiness, and unrelenting pressure on opponents equates to victory this time.