Inter Miami confirmed on Saturday that Gonzalo Higuain will be available for selection for Sunday's Week 14 match at Philadelphia (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming) after receiving his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Head coach Diego Alonso sounded confident a day before that Higuain could hit the ground running as soon as the paperwork was out of the way.
“He already knows his teammates, he’s had several trainings with them and they’ve interacted on different drills,” Alonso told media ahead of the match. “We’ve talked a lot about the way we play, we’ve watched videos, and we’ve worked a lot. And If he’s available for Sunday, of course he’s going to travel.”
There’s no one more glad that Higuain is nearing his debut than Inter Miami’s Mexican national team star Rodolfo Pizarro, who thus far has shouldered the pressure of delivering in attack for the expansion club. Pizarro and Juan Agudelo lead the team with three goals each.
“I’m really happy that he’s here. I think he’s going to help us a lot and score a lot of goals,” Pizarro told media. “We needed a No. 9, a reference point in the box and they got us the best one. His arrival is very important and I’m really happy that he’s here.”
Inter Miami are working to make sure that Pizarro and Higuain are playing together for as long a run of matches as possible during the final six weeks of the regular season. Alonso indicated that the club has been in conversations with the Mexican national team about Pizarro's availability for a potential call-up in October, hoping not to lose one of their marquee players during a busy stretch.
“Logically, everyone is looking out for their own interests,” Alonso said of the conversations with the Mexican federation. “The [Mexican] national team wants to count on him and we also want to count on the player. If we can count on Rodolfo and he doesn’t travel for this game [with the Mexican national team] that’s what we’ll do because he’s an important player for us, especially in this moment.
“Rodolfo is very committed to the club, but he also has feelings for the national team and we understand that and respect that. He’ll accept what we decide between the Mexican federation and the club.”
Pizarro sympathized with his club's plight, admitting it's a complicated situation given he would lose up to four of the team’s 10 remaining matches if he joins Mexico for an October 7 match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Mexico also plays Guatemala in Mexico City on September 30, but that match falls outside the FIFA international window (Oct. 5-13).
“I’ll leave it in the hands of the club. They’re the ones who have the final decision. In the end they’ll decide what’s best for me and for the team,” Pizarro said.
“You always want to go to the national team. As a player it’s the most beautiful thing to represent your country. But in this case it’s complicated. We would lose many games and now since we’re fighting to qualify [for the playoffs], it’s also complicated. I put myself in the club’s position and I know it’s been a complicated season. I put myself in their position and I know it’s tough to let me leave and have me lose those four games.”
Pizarro, who got a slight breather in the last match coming off the bench for the final 33 minutes, said he hopes to be 100 percent fit come Sunday.
His will be a welcome addition to the starting XI for a Miami team that Alonso said is focused on correcting the mistakes committed in the 4-1 loss against the Red Bulls, including five scoring chances he said they could have converted in the second half.
“There are still a lot of games and we’re only three points away to qualify for the playoffs,” Pizarro said. “So there’s a long road ahead and there are many games remaining and I’m convinced that we’re going to qualify [for the playoffs].”