Call it a soft opening. While the arrival of Lionel Messi and his family in South Florida has dominated Inter Miami news, the third — and most intriguing — era of Club Internacional de Futbol Miami’s on-field product begins tonight in St. Louis with the debut of head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
Inter Miami limps into tonight’s match against first-year St. Louis City on a 10-match winless streak, in last place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points from 21 matches (5-13-3). St. Louis leads the Western Conference with 38 points (12-8-2). The match kicks off at 8:30 Eastern and can be viewed on Apple TV.
Draws in three straight matches and strong performances from its younger players give Tata some reason for optimism in his return to an MLS sideline. Argentine-American Benjamin Cremaschi, a homegrown midfielder from Key Biscayne, and defender Noah Allen from Pembroke Pines, another homegrown player, scored their first senior team goals in last week’s 2-2 tie at D.C. United. Cremaschi has been named to the league’s Team of the Matchday after the last two matches. David Ruiz and Ian Fray also are playing Major minutes for La Rosanegra.
Miami Herald soccer writer Michelle Kaufman reported that Martino has been impressed by the youngsters’ performances.
"One of the biggest positives I have seen so far is the performance of the young guys, their commitment and how they took the responsibility."- Tata Martino
“One of the biggest positives I have seen so far is the performance of the young guys, their commitment and how they took the responsibility,” Martino said. “We will keep evaluating the players, and there are still some signings left to announce, so once that happens we can make a full evaluation. It will take time. For this week we will use the players who have been playing regularly. You can’t change a team with five training sessions. We will slowly start adding things in the coming weeks.”
Forward Nicholas Gioacchini leads St. Louis City with eight goals; forward Klauss and midfielder Eduard Lowen each have scored five for the hosts. Striker Josef Martinez, who thrived under Martino at Atlanta United, leads Inter Miami with six goals; his attacking partner, Leonardo Campana, has four.
After tonight’s match, Inter Miami has a break from league play until it hosts Charlotte FC on Aug. 20. All 47 teams in Major League Soccer and Liga MX, Mexico’s top-tier professional league, will compete for the Leagues Cup. Messi and Busquets are expected to make their Inter Miami debuts Friday when the Herons host Mexican side Crus Azul. Miami will play Atlanta United, the third team in Group South 3, on July 25.