The Kid did it again for Inter Miami. Benjamin Cremaschi, the Argentine American midfielder from Key Biscayne, made a penalty kick Wednesday to seal a thrilling come-from-behind win.
The 3-3 (5-4) victory against host FC Cincinnati in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal sets up a home match against the Houston Dynamo Sept. 27 for the 2023 Open Cup title; last night's win also
gives the Herons a chance for their second-ever trophy less than six weeks after the first. Cremaschi was a key contributor in La Rosanegra's Leagues Cup title run, scoring a goal and banging home the winning penalty in a 4-4 (5-3) win at Dallas in the tournament's Round of 32 and making his penalty in the unlikely 1-1 (10-9) Leagues Cup title match Saturday at Nashville.
"I’ve been in contact with both federations and I know it’s a decision I eventually have to make but there’s time. I’ve spoken about it with Messi, he has asked me and I love Argentina."- Benhamin Cremaschi
It's fair to say Cremaschi is attracting attention. Although "Benja" (pronounced "Ben-Ha") was born in the U.S., his parents were born in Argentina, making him eligible for both countries' national teams. He's been called up to train with the Argentine and American youth national teams and scored three goals for the U.S. U-19 side that won the Slovenia Nations Cup in September, but he hasn't committed to one or the other. A player doesn't have to declare his international affiliation until he's appeared in a competitive match for a national team.
With an international window coming up, Cremaschi and Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender both have been named to the USMNT's provisional roster. The U.S. will play friendlies against Oman and Uzbekistan, but friendly matches don't count toward any competition and don't commit players to a national team.
Cremaschi's decision became more difficult in July when his childhood idol, Argentine World Cup hero Lionel Messi, joined the teenager at Inter Miami. Messi, widely considered the world's greatest player or even the greatest of all time (GOAT), has become something of a mentor to Cremaschi.
The attacking midfielder said in an interview with TUDN USA that his choice is "not easy," but he's not thinking about it for now.
"I’ve been in contact with both federations and I know it’s a decision I eventually have to make but there’s time," Cremaschi said. "I’ve spoken about it with Messi, he has asked me and I love Argentina."
An Inter Heron note: We hope Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson and ownership are crunching numbers to find a way to extend Cremaschi's contract. He's a bargain at something like $70,000 per year.