Goalkeepers McCarthy, Callender Ready for the Challenge

Goalkeepers Drake Callender and John McCarthy

Inter Miami goalkeepers John McCarthy and Drake Callender will both be available for selection in the absence of captain Luis Robles, who suffered an unfortunate injury to his left arm last Saturday. For McCarthy, an appearance would mean a return to MLS action after nearly two years, while for Callender, it would mean a professional debut for the college standout. 

Though Robles has maintained the starting spot all season, the backup shot stoppers have prepared as if this opportunity could arise at any moment.

“Luis is a great guy, he’s the captain of our team for a reason. He has years of experience, he pulls everyone together and he’s had a great career so he’s a great guy to train with. To be able to fill his shoes, I look forward to taking advantage of the opportunity and helping everybody in a positive way,” said McCarthy. “These opportunities can be far and few in between as a backup, but the mindset is that you can play every weekend. That’s what it has to be. The preparedness for these moments comes from the work you put in throughout the week.”

“The preparation started once I finished my college career. It started this preseason, getting adjusted to the level of play, how our coach wants us to play, his philosophy. It was both a commitment physically and mentally,” said Callender. “At first I had to figure out how to mentally prepare for this level, for professional games, having the proper mindset and understanding that there’s going to be a lot of adversity, a lot of challenges. If you focus on what you can control - your attitude and your energy - then that will flow into your physical performance. So, I’ve been staying fit, giving 100% at every training and making sure that I’m preparing for a game even if I’m not a starter.”

Goalkeeper coach Sebastián Saja has worked tirelessly with the unit every day in training and believes that each of the players is prepared to live up to the moment and step into the net for Inter Miami.

“First of all, we’re very sorry about Luis’ injury. It’s a shame to lose him but I’m assured in the knowledge that John and Drake are two good goalkeepers and that they can step in and be up to the circumstances,” said Saja. “They have worked hard over these nine months and they have always pushed Luis to play well and never relent. That’s why I think they are ready for the moment. It’s a big opportunity for them both. Opportunity arrives for those who earn it and in this case they earned it, nobody handed it to them. Now they have to defend that with their performances, but I have no doubt they are prepared.” 

An appearance would also mark the first by either player for Inter Miami, making them just the second individual to man the net in Club history.

“It would be great, it’s what you work for every day,” added McCarthy. “To be able to play for this Club is what I have worked for and it’s something I look forward to.”

“It would mean the world to me because this is something that I’ve been working towards my entire life. To get to this level and to make a debut professionally, there’s a lot of fulfillment in that, but to make it at this Club would mean even more because I know how much hard work was put in to get the Club going and to get where we are,” said Callender. “I’m in here every day with my teammates putting in the work and figuring things out so it would be a very special moment to make my debut.”

McCarthy is no stranger to this situation as he featured in similar circumstances during his time with the Philadelphia Union, filling in for stalwart goalkeeper Andre Blake on a number of occasions. In total, he made 21 MLS appearances for the team from 2015 to 2018. In McCarthy’s last MLS match, he recorded a shutout in a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in Sept. 2018.

McCarthy also made appearances for Philadelphia’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC, as well as the Rochester Rhinos in 2014 (where he was named USL Rookie of the Year, USL Goalkeeper of the Year and was selected for the USL All-League First Team that season), and the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2019. 

For Callender, an appearance would mean a chance to show fans what he is capable of with their first glimpse of the young goalkeeper in action as a pro. In college, he put together a distinguished four years at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Callender accumulated a number of accolades for his play, including being named to the United Soccer Coaches NCAA All-Far West Region First Team and the All-Pac-12 First Team for the 2017 season. For the 2018 season, he was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team, among other honors. 

Lastly, both players shared their well-wishes for their goalkeeping unit teammate Robles as he recovers from his injury.

“You hate to see someone get taken out through injury at any point in time. I know that he’ll come back better and stronger and I’m really looking forward to having him back on the field with us,” said McCarthy.

“Him being a part of our team and playing the position with him has really shown me how much of a leader he is. He is an anchor for our team and me, John McCarthy and Sebastián Saja, our goalie union,” added Callender. “It’s unfortunate for him to pick up this injury, especially during this time, but I’ve been sending prayers up for him and hoping for a speedy recovery. I know with his work ethic and mindset that he’ll be back on the field in no time.”