A promising MLS debut for Gonzalo Higuain was dampened not just by the torrential conditions at Subaru Park, but by a missed penalty kick that cast a sour note on the evening for Inter Miami's newest star.
Higuain showed glimpses of the ability that made him a world-class forward with some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Real Madrid and most recently Juventus, and the Argentinian national team, even grazing the post with a spectacular overhead kick attempt in the 20th minute.
But his most talked about moment of the night will surely be his penalty miss in the 77th minute.
With Miami trailing 2-0, Higuain stepped up after the Union were penalized for a handball in their own area following Video Review, but he fired his attempt from the spot clean over the crossbar. Philadelphia defender Jakob Glesnes then appeared to celebrate the miss in front of Higuain, setting off a tense confrontation between him and several Union players:
Despite making the highlight reel in an unflattering way, Higuain nonetheless showed why he can be the man to lead Inter Miami’s attack alongside Rodolfo Pizarro. He went the full 90 minutes despite not having played since featuring in the Champions League for former club Juventus on Aug. 6. Before he grazed the post in the 20th minute, he also fired a shot over the bar after taking on a pair of Union defenders. All told, Higuain had five efforts on the night, with one more smothered at close range by goalkeeper Andre Blake, another blocked, and the other accounted for by his penalty miss.
“I think that he showed he was in good conditions,” Miami head coach Diego Alonso said of Higuain in his postgame press conference. “Logically, he was going to need more games and with those games he’s going to prove more comfortable, he’s going to feel better. He was very eager to play today. Obviously the penalty is a situation that could happen to any player — it could have been him, it could have been another player. We’re happy with his work and the work of the team and we need to continue to aim to perform better and minimize mistakes.”
In addition to his nose for goal, the Argentine forward also showed his ability to connect the Inter Miami attack, providing a measured pass to keep the attack flowing in the build-up to his effort off the post and hitting several pinpoint switches from deep positions to change the point of the attack. Higuain ended the match completing 23 of his 25 passing attempts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, his most frequent connection was with former Juve teammate Blaise Matuidi, who accounted for eight of his pass attempts. Time should ensure a stronger understanding with the rest of his teammates, and his potentially high-powered partnership with Pizarro should be of particular interest to fans and observers around the league. In the meantime, you can check out all the highlights from his debut in Philadelphia right here: