With the first selection in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, Paul McDonough knew he had the choice of a talented crop of collegiate talent for Inter Miami CF’s first-ever pick.
Robbie Robinson was always at the top of his list.
But that didn’t mean the club's COO and Sporting Director was going to take it light on the “quiet, soccer junkie” in the interview leading up to the draft.
McDonough said the forward “has an enormous amount of talent, but Robbie doesn’t spend enough time in the gym.”
After Niki Budalic, the club’s director of soccer operations, and Kurt Schmid, the technical director, played good cop, McDonough changed gears in his conversation with Robinson, he said on the second episode of OnSide.
“I told Robbie, I don’t know if you’ll start for us,” McDonough said. “And Robbie said to me, ‘why are you going to draft me?’ I thought it was a good response, he believes in himself.”
There’s been no lack of superstars linked with Inter Miami, including recent reports about Colombian James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
While not addressing James directly, McDonough said it was always the plan to bring influential players — one a Designated Player and a “max TAM guy — and laid out the blueprints on what the club are looking for in such a player.
“I like the model of what we did in Atlanta United,” said McDonough, who was the Five Stripes' vice president of soccer operations. “It doesn’t say I wouldn’t go get a senior Designated Player that’s a global star, but the economics need to make sense, their motivations have to be right, they have to come here and be a leader.”
As for the recruitment of youth South American talent, like Julian Carranza and Matias Pellegrini, McDonough said the history of success he had with Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron is an advantage.
He especially cites Almiron, who had an immensely successful two years in MLS before a record-breaking transfer to Newcastle United in the Premier League.
“Players want that intermediate step to come here, adapt outside of Argentina or other places in South American — but mainly Argentina,” McDonough said. “And then have the opportunity to jump to Europe.”