Inter Miami was destined to tear the rumor mill from its foundations. Between David Beckham's Rolodex, the lure of South Beach and the ambition of the Mas brothers, no target was too big to be believed as the club set out to fill its Designated Player spots for Year 1.
Be honest, after all the starts and stops and all the headlines, we all expected more than big names. It was Miami. It was Beckham. We wanted to be wowed. We came to expect world-class players, maybe a Galactico or two.
So far, 25 days away from their long-awaited MLS debut, no Galacticos. Only one DP, Argentine teenager Matias Pellegrini. Meanwhile, the MLS world, myself included, is not-so-patiently waiting to see how and by whom the most high-profile remaining roster holes in the league will be filled.
Inter Miami, for their part, don’t seem too concerned. Internally, there’s long been a feeling that it’s better to be the tortoise and not the hare when building your very first roster. In other words, opening day is not the day that matters most.
As with Diego Alonso and the long-open, much-discussed head coaching position, it’s clear Jorge Mas, David Beckham and Paul McDonough are perfectly content to go at their own pace. If your goal is to paint a masterpiece, why rush the final brush strokes? Why risk the long-term health of the project for instant gratification?
“We are still building the team,” Mas told reporters in late January. “You will see five or six players incorporated into the team in the coming weeks. We are less interested in the name of these players, but more so in their character.”
Translation: We see the rumor mill churning – right now it’s Edinson Cavani, Luka Modric, Roger Martinez and Rodolfo Pizarro’s names splashed across the headlines – but we won’t be a slave to expectations that aren’t our own, salacious headline writers or concerned talking heads.
So, on the DP front, Inter Miami wait. They wait, per The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio, for a buyout agreement with Monterrey that would bring El Tri midfielder Pizarro to South Florida. They wait to see if Martinez can be enticed north as well. If not – if it’s too complicated, expensive, both or the deal is already dead – they may wait for summer, when new targets will inevitably emerge.
No matter how those deals play out, after the last week saw three additions come in, by Mas' own math there are still two or three more additions to go before the club’s inaugural road trip to Banc of California Stadium to take on LAFC, the defending Supporters’ Shield champions and most recent expansion team de jour. As Mas promised, the club chose character over name value.
Wil Trapp might not have the cultural sway in Miami that he did in Columbus, but he’s in-his-prime captain material. Lewis Morgan might not have name recognition on this side of the Atlantic, but he’s a versatile attacker aching for the opportunity it seems he’ll get with Inter. Nico Figal may still be waiting for his first Argentina cap, but he’s betting swapping Independiente for MLS will keep him on Lionel Scaloni's radar after a September call-up opened the door.
At least two of the three will be starters on March 1 when Inter Miami begin their MLS journey. We’ll know a little bit more about how Alonso sees things after Friday’s friendly against the Charleston Battery. For now, here’s a guess (key word) at Inter Miami’s first-ever XI.