With the 2023 season now in the rearview mirror, Inter Miami CF Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson reflected on a historic season for the Club, and looked ahead to 2024 with ambition to supersede this season’s accomplishments.
Henderson cited the Leagues Cup triumph as a major turning point for the Club, praising the effort that went into achieving the historic milestone and identifying it as a potential launching pad for the team.
“I think in this league, sometimes that first trophy is the hardest to win and we got over that objective as a Club… It was an amazing tournament and summer for us. One of my former coaches Sigi Schmid said, ‘there’s something about being the first team to win something.’ That can never be taken away, and it will always be special,” said Henderson.
The Leagues Cup title also opened another gateway for Inter Miami, qualifying the team for continental competition for the first time, earning it a berth in the Round of 16 in the 2024 edition of the Concacaf Champions Cup.
“This is significant because now it gives us an opportunity to have a path to the FIFA Club World Cup,” emphasized Henderson. “Concacaf Champions Cup is something we are thrilled to be competing in now; it puts you on a global stage to have success. Only one MLS team has won that tournament (Seattle), other teams have come very close. So that will be something we are looking forward to competing in.
“We have players on our roster who have played in the European (UEFA) Champions League and know how to succeed at the same time as managing their domestic league, so that is going to be really important to lean on their experience. Obviously ‘Tata’ Martino has seen everything in the game and he has been through these scenarios as well, in this league and in Europe. We have to rely on that experience.”
Another key accomplishment for Inter Miami this year came in the form of its accelerated youth development; in 2023, Inter Miami’s young players achieved a number of firsts. Notably, an Academy product started a First Team match for the first time (Benjamin Cremaschi), an Academy product scored a First Team goal for the first time (David Ruiz), and Homegrown Academy products saw the most minutes in Club history. Henderson expounded on the importance of these young players to the team, both now and in the future.
“The balance of the team is important. The three u-22 signings we had, the development of our Academy and players coming through, that is going to be vitally important for the consistency and sustainability…It’s really important to think long-term, as well as short-term and winning trophies now, to make sure that Inter Miami is a competitive team two, three, four years from now.”
While 2023 was headlined by the additions of superstar signings Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, as well as the meteoric Leagues Cup title run, Henderson is looking at 2024 as an opportunity to find even more success.
"We've seen what this team is capable of when we're firing on all cylinders and everyone is out there. We played some beautiful fútbol, controlling games, but in saying that, we want more...We have high hopes for 2024 and we want to show what we can do as a club. Winning trophies and having high ambitions is something we've had since day one."