Inter Miami CF's sibling duo of Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Higuain may not be available for their Sunday match against Nashville SC (1 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes) after their mother, Nancy Zacarias, passed away earlier this week while battling cancer.
The brothers had flown back to Argentina to be with their family, leading to a bigger-picture perspective from head coach Phil Neville as he mulls over his starting XI ahead of the weekend.
“They’re more than footballers, their families are more important,” Neville said. “So at this moment in time there is, we don't know whether the Higuains are going to be here Sunday.
“When they left, Gonzalo and Fede both said that their mum's dying wish was [for] them to come back and play, and ultimately, you think about, the strength of a mother in a household is really powerful. So ultimately what I said to them is, you go back and see your family, spend time with your family and make sure that you give them everything you can, and football is secondary. So we’re not sure about the Higuain brothers.”
Gonzalo Higuain is one of Miami’s three Designated Players, with the striker scoring twice and assisting once across their first two games of 2021. Federico Higuain has played in his attacking midfield role, tallying one goal and one assist in last weekend’s 2-1 win at the Philadelphia Union.
The club’s dealing with other potential absences, too, with Neville disclosing that DP midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro is in Mexico getting his green card and is a “major doubt” to play against Nashville. Further, wide forward Robbie Robinson and striker Julian Carranza are both out.
Given their potentially deflated attack, Miami may need to turn down the depth chart to record their first win at DRV PNK Stadium under Neville.
“So what I said to the guys this morning was is that, we've got a really, really good squad with two players for every position with real quality, and I'm like, now's our opportunity to show this quality, the strength of the squad, to give players opportunity that have been champing at the bit,” Neville said.
“We're going to play the style of play that we've played with since I came in, and we’re just going to make sure we find our rhythm and the quality and the confidence that we showed in Philadelphia and against LA Galaxy,” Neville said. “That is the challenge for us on Sunday against a team that I think has been unlucky, that probably should have had six points from the first two games, the amount of chances, the amount of opportunities that they create and the pressure that they put on the opposition – outstanding team with a brilliant manager.”