What seems like a lifetime ago, I wrote a piece for Inter Heron in which I suggested bringing Lionel Messi to Miami could be disastrous. Yeah, I guess that didn’t age well. My worry was twofold: that Messi would be such a distraction that it would disrupt the locker room, and/or that satisfying Messi would mean taking the focus from a promising group of youngsters to surround Messi with veterans.
Either could still happen, but I’m feeling much better. The Argentinian World Cup hero seems to relish working with La Rosanegra’s younger players, and Coach Tata Martino has shown he’s not afraid to play the kids. Messi and former Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets are coaches on the field, instructing, correcting, mentoring those younger players. It’s the ideal for which I hoped when the Messi rumor became reality.
Last week, three of the brightest of Miami’s bright young stars earned spots on the 2023 BODYARMOR MLS 22 Under 22 list. Select Major League Soccer staff and MLS Season Pass talent vote for the best players who will be younger than 22 on Decision Day (Saturday, Oct. 21). Herons homegrown midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi from Key Biscayne finished second on the list to only FC Dallas standout Alan Velasco. Forward Facundo Farias and midfielder Diego Gomez, midsummer signings from Argentina and Paraguay, respectively, were Inter Miami’s other selections.
Cremaschi is one of seven homegrown players on Miami’s roster, several of whom should have been considered for this list; I’m thinking about defenders Noah Allen and Ian Fray (who has shown tremendous promise when he hasn’t struggled with knee injuries) and defensive midfielder David Ruiz. Add to that Tomas Aviles, an Argentine center back who, like Farias and Gomez, was signed this summer, and it’s obvious sporting director Chris Henderson is not ignoring player development.
Whether as cornerstone players for Inter Miami for years to come, or as assets to sale or trade to fill needs, it’s important to have in-demand young players under contract. So far, so good, IMCF. Come on, you Herons!