David Beckham leads a consortium of owners of the latest MLS expansion team – Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, or Inter Miami for short.
Miami has had a long history of attempted franchises in the past. This began in the early 1970s with the creation of the Miami Gatos / Toros, who formed in 1972 in the nearby Fort Lauderdale. They eventually evolved into what is likely the most commonly known team from the Miami region, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, however this side folded by the end of the 1980s.
Football once more returned to Miami in the 90s, with the creation of the infamous Miami Fusion. This team did manage to win silverware, winning the Supporters Shield in the MLS; however, they only existed until 2001, lasting just four years.
This then brings us to the last time an attempt was made to create a Miami side, this time, it was Brazilian legend Romário who attempted to resurrect the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2006. This was once more short-lived along with the Brazilian Ronaldo’s attempt to do the same thing, which, along with other Brazilian investors, folded in 2016.
This then brings us to the present day, where Inter Miami has completed thus far two games in the MLS, losing on both occasions to LAFC and DC United respectively.
Despite early setbacks on the pitch, off it seems that there is a long-term plan to create a club that will be sustainable for the future. The team currently plays in the temporary stadium, Inter Miami CF Stadium, in Fort Lauderdale, however, the permanent home of the club, Miami Freedom Park, is currently being built, with the 25,000-seater arena set to be opened in 2022.
Despite the high-profile owner and the quirky pink and black crest and football kit causing serious interest from football fans from around the world, many are led to ask the question of whether the MLS is still a retirement home for Europe’s top players from yesteryear.
The answer, as with many things, is not as simple as yes or no. The league itself has matured vastly even in the 13 years since Beckham first appeared in the league as a player himself.
Back then, the MLS was seen as a somewhat of a laughing stock, with no players of any real meaning competing in the league, a 32-year old Beckham arrived to a league begging for a man of his presence, but by the time he left, was celebrating the presence of legends of the game such as Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane.
Despite this, it is difficult to argue that players, especially Europeans in their prime, have made the jump to the MLS in their prime. The latest former-European star, Javier Hernandez, is now aged at 31 with dwindling amounts of pace and having been playing a bit-part role for La Liga outfit Sevilla.
Despite this, there is clear evidence that Inter Miami has managed to attract attention from continental winners from neighbouring Mexico. The club’s first-ever head coach, Diego Alonso, had seen his previous job at Monterrey peak as they were crowned CONCACAF Champions League winners, the equivalent of the Champions League in North America.
Although Europe’s current crop of influential stars are still unlikely to make the trip across the pond at peak age any time soon, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The MLS is evidently growing at a steady and positive rate, to the extent where another 10 years may allow it to be viewed as a genuine league of choice for the world’s best.
Last modified: 18th March 2020