Inter Miami CF still have one Designated Player slot available. They will sign a centre-forward with it, and if they nail the acquisition, the playoffs beckon.
Inter Miami CF are the latest expansion team in Major League Soccer to arrive with big ideas. They have been long in the making and do not enter MLS with understated expectations. They want to dominate, and not just domestically. Like Atlanta and LAFC before them, Miami are not here to make up the numbers.
Only one expansion team has ever won MLS Cup, and that was the Chicago Fire all the way back in 1998. Some have made the playoffs, like Atlanta, LAFC and Seattle, three of the more successful franchises, but the majority have struggled to find their feet.
However, Inter Miami are in the process of building a team that is capable of winning from the moment they step onto the pitch. And, as the new season loom, if they finish their offseason well, they might do precisely that.
Inter Miami have endured a turbulent first offseason. It took them until the new year to hire a manager, they have been linked to every player under the sun without ever signing any, and there are now legal questions surrounding their name. But if they can nail the final Designated Player that is yet to be filled, they will have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league.
Speaking at Fort Lauderdale to reporters this week, co-owner Jorge Mas confirmed that Miami plan to use their third DP slot and have already identified the position at which they will invest it:
"“We have one open DP spot. It’s going to be geared toward a striker. Everyone has been expecting a really big name and some from Europe. There’s a possibility that we wait until the summer transfer window, for that nine. The injury to Julian Carranza was unexpected, so we need some depth at that position. We do have some options but in all likelihood, our main DP will be in the summer window or we’ll have some type of loan transaction in the short term.”"
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Quite who that number nine will be remains to be seen. There have been plenty of rumours swirling around and it is difficult to know which can be believed. But if Miami were to nail the transfer, whoever that transfer may be, it would complete what is already a playoff-ready roster.
Matias Pellegrini and Rodolfo Pizarro have already arrived as two Designated Players, and both are expected to flourish in MLS, while Miami have built a stable team around them. They have MLS experience in Wil Trapp and Luis Robles, ability in the anticipated acquisition of Agustin Almendra, Roman Torres and Nicolas Figal at centre-back, and depth throughout the squad offered by the likes of Lee Nguyen, Victor Ulloa, Juan Agudelo and many others.
Miami is a playoff team without a centre-forward, especially after Julian Carranza’s injury. And so, should they add that leading centre-forward with their final DP slot, suddenly, you are looking at a team that can make good on its promises to be competitive.
The MLS season is here. And for Inter Miami, it is more significant than for most. But nail their final DP selection and they might just do more than open their MLS career. They might compete, shock, and even win.