A lot has happened since David Beckham and Inter Miami CF shocked the world by signing Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. The Herons remain last in the Eastern Conference of MLS, but they managed to advance to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Plus, the team did a couple more signings that are also expected to have a huge impact.
As for the Argentine superstar, he’s on vacation with his family, but not for long since the Herons expect him to debut in the Leagues Cup that starts in three weeks.
Signing LionelMessi wasn’t enough for Inter Miami CF. Recently, the Herons also announced the signing of Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, who knows Messi really well since they played together at Barcelona for several years.
Busquets, who’s 34, won it all with Los Azulgranas. He also won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship with Spain’s national team. Like Messi, Busquets also rejected a very tempting offer from the Saudi Arabian league.
Of course, reuniting with Messi was one of the main reasons for Busquets to choose MLS, but that’s not all. Playing for Gerardo Martino also had a lot to do with it. That’s right, the Herons also have a new head coach in Martino.
Also known as El Tata, Martino returns to MLS after having coached Atlanta United between 2017 and 2018. In fact, he led the Five Stripes to the title in 2018.
Martino also coached Messi and Busquets in the 2013-14 season, when he took the reins of Barcelona. That season, Los Azulgranas finished second in La Liga. He also worked with Messi between 2014 and 2016, when he coached Argentina’s national team. In other words, he knows the two superstars extremely well.
“We are confident that his achievements in the game and experience as a head coach will inspire our team and excite our fans and look forward to seeing the impact he will have on and off the field,” said co-owner Beckham to the press.
What Has Messi Been Doing?
After announcing that he would take his talents to South Beach, the Argentine superstar took some days off. However, he interrupted those first vacations to attend Maxi Rodriguez and Juan Roman Riquelme retirement matches. Both were played in Argentina and Messi, as usual, was the center of attention.
After that, he returned to his family. They’re currently enjoying a second vacation. Nevertheless, he should report to Inter Miami soon as he’s expected to make his debut on July 21 against Cruz Azul. The Herons and Cruz Azul will collide as part of the Leagues Cup, which is played by teams from MLS and Liga MX.
If not, Messi would make his debut four days later against Atlanta United, also in the Leagues Cup.
That gives the Herons three weeks to expand DRV PNK Stadium capacity from 18,000 people to 21,000 people. Luckily for them, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis understands how important this is and will collaborate in everything that’s necessary.
How About Inter Miami CF?
The Herons are last in the Eastern Conference with 15 points, 11 points behind DC United, the team sitting in ninth place, which is the last to grant a ticket for the playoffs. The good news, kind of, is that the Herons have only played 18 games. All the other teams have played 19 or 20 matches.
No other team has scored fewer goals than Inter Miami with 17. With Messi on the field, that should change. As for the defensive unit, they’ve conceded 28 goals. Despite being in last place, that’s not the worst record since Atlanta United and Charlotte FC have conceded 35 goals.
Things have been completely different in the U.S. Open Cup, in which the Herons have qualified for the semifinals. They eliminated Miami FC, Charleston, Nashville SC and Birmingham Legion FC on their way to the semifinals. Cincinnati comes next on Aug. 23.
Winning the Leagues Cup would also be huge for the Herons since the champions will earn a spot directly in the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. With Messi on board, Inter Miami is now among the MLS betting and soccer betting favorites to win both titles.