Did anybody notice that Benjamin Cremaschi has earned back-to-back Team of the Matchday nods? Or that Callender received his fourth ToM recognition? No, me neither.
What a strange and wonderful time to be an Inter Miami fan. The attention of the world — the soccering world, at least — is focused squarely on Fort Lauderdale, where Club Internacional de Futbol Miami is preparing to consummate the most unlikely coupling in American soccer history. The humble young club with audacious ambition stunned the soccer establishment when Lionel Messi, the greatest player of this generation, announced June 7 that he would sign to play for the Herons.
That was more than a month ago, and the contract remains unsigned. But Messi and family are in South Florida and Miami is bracing for Sunday’s “Unveiling” at DRV PNK Stadium, when the club is expected to introduce, officially, its superstar signing.
Meanwhile, the Herons with contracts — the ones who aren’t injured or recovering from CONCACAF Gold Cup disappointment — are struggling their way through a miserable fourth season in club history.
If La Rosanegra are to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the 2023 season, it will need more than the magnificence of Messi in the waning seasons of his career, or the brilliance of his former Barcelona teammates, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, who also are expected to sign with Miami. Thanks to Inter Miami’s academy and Chris Henderson’s knack for recognizing and acquiring talent, the supporting cast looks promising. None of the young Herons embodies that promise more than 18-year-old homegrown midfielder/wing back Benjamin Cremaschi.
Cremaschi was born in Miami and played youth soccer with Key Biscayne SC and the Weston Academy before joining Inter Miami in 2021. He played a single season for Inter Miami II before signing with the first team in November. He debuted in a 2-0 win against Montreal in February and began to earn meaningful minutes after Gregore went down with a foot injury in the next match.
The Argentine- American, who has been called up for both country’s youth sides, has started 17 of Inter Miami’s 21 matches. He scored a golazo Saturday against Columbus, his first senior-team goal. While the other Argentinian will, rightfully, dominate headlines, Cremaschi will continue to contribute.
Callender, 25, earned Miami’s starting goalkeeper job in 2022 and continues to build his reputation as one of the league’s best shot-stoppers. He saved seven shots in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at D.C. United Saturday, giving him 78 for the season, fourth-most in MLS.
Fans may be forgiven for being distracted; Messi’s may be the second-most anticipated coming of all time, and it’s easy to be caught up in the excitement of what might be. But let’s remember, the young men who will take the pitch Saturday in St. Louis will be an important part of that tomorrow.
Let’s support them today.