PHIvsMIA - July 14 - Pizarro celebrates

Inter Miami CF have received a major boost ahead of the club’s inaugural Audi MLS Cup Playoff game, with head coach Diego Alonso confirming Wednesday that Rodolfo Pizarro will be available when they travel to face Nashville SC on Friday in an Eastern Conference Play-In Round game (9 pm ET | TV & streaming info).

Pizarro, one of the expansion club’s three Designated Players, was expected to miss the single-elimination game due to COVID-19 pandemic quarantine protocols upon his return from representing Mexico’s national team in November’s FIFA match window.

Now, however, the midfielder figures to contribute after taking a charter flight back to Miami. MLS, in accordance with its medical experts, has approved international players traveling back to their clubs via charter flights. After traveling in the controlled environment and regularly testing while on international duty, players can rejoin their MLS club team on U.S. soil and avoid quarantining as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

“In terms of Rodolfo, we received the great news he’s going to be able to play and participate on Friday,” Alonso told media members Wednesday. “He travels to Miami [Wednesday] and [Thursday], he should be ready to train with the team and be able to play.”

Alonso also added that defender Nicolas Figal and the versatile Brek Shea will both be available, too. Figal missed their last two games with a leg injury, while Shea missed their last three matches, including a must-win game on Decision Day presented by AT&T, which finished in a 2-1 victory over FC Cincinnati and clinched the No. 10 seed.

But the Pizarro news grabs the headlines, as Miami initially feared that public health safeguards meant they’d be without the 26-year-old. Pizarro now has 25 appearances for Mexico, playing seven minutes off the bench in a 3-2 win over South Korea last Saturday and playing 89 minutes from the start in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Japan. Both were friendlies.

Pizarro had four goals and five assists in 19 regular-season appearances (17 starts) for Inter Miami. He joined last February from Liga MX side CF Monterrey.