The three-time MLS Cup champion A.J. DeLaGarza signed for Inter Miami CF this week.
The Club spoke with the defender following the announcement and touched on his expectations entering Inter Miami’s inaugural season:
Q: What attracted you to the Inter Miami project?
A: Oh man, a lot. Just to be a part of an expansion team for me was a challenge I wanted. You add in the Miami culture and the fans, it just felt like a project, team, city and fanbase that I wanted to be a part of.
Q: You’ve never been a part of an MLS expansion side before, what do you expect from this process?
A: I’m sure there will be a learning curve, but I think the team that Paul [McDonough] and his staff have put together so far has been really good and I think we’re going to go out there and compete. I think when you get a team like Miami that comes into the league, they’re not just going to come in and do the bare minimum. The objective is to compete, and make the playoffs, and MLS Cup, and Open Cup, and whatever it may be. This is not a small market team even though it is our first season.
Q: What are your expectations for the Club in the short and long term?
A: I think it can be a top destination for players in Europe. I think it can be one of the best clubs in the world. You have an owner in David Beckham who has played at those top clubs and knows what it takes for the players specifically to succeed at a very high level. He’s going to bring in the staff and the players and give you all the tools that you need to succeed on the field. It’s good to have an owner who’s as well-known as him but has also played the game and knows what it takes to win.
Q: As an MLS veteran, how do you feel about taking on this new challenge in your career? How do you expect it to be different from your previous experiences?
A: I think it’s a little bit different. Obviously, I was drafted to LA [Galaxy] and was there for eight years and was traded to Houston. Now this was kind of my first choice. It was my choice for where I wanted to go and from the very start Miami was at the top of my list. Thankfully it all worked out and it went as planned. But for me on the field, it’s another challenge that I think I needed and I’m ready to prepare for and execute once I get there.
Q: What do you want the fans to know about what you will bring to this team?
A: I think I have a track record of playing with heart. But good games or bad games I’ll stand up to the criticisms, I’ll take some blame off the team, when I have a bad game, I’ll hold my hand up high and be the first one to call myself out. This past year was probably the toughest of my career coming back from an ACL tear. They say you are stronger two years after your surgery and I hit that mark just this past week so it can only go up from here. I’m excited to be going to a new city and I know the fans will embrace the team and organization.
Q: Is there any other message you want to share with the fanbase?
A: I’m excited for them because this is their club. Players will come in and out, but the fans will be there forever, so we want to do well for them, and we need their support day in and day out. I’m looking forward to getting out there and being a part of the group.