With a thrilling and historic season now behind us, let's take a look at the top 10 moments of Inter Miami CF’s 2023 campaign.
2023 Leagues Cup title Win
2023 was a year of many firsts and historic milestones for the Club. The highlight of the year saw the organization achieve one of its main objectives since its inception, winning titles. The team clinched the 2023 Leagues Cup title to win a historic first official trophy for the First Team. The final saw Inter Miami pitted against Nashville SC in a nail-biting final at GEODIS Park, with captain Lionel Messi bringing his tally in the tournament to 10 by scoring during regulation in the 1-1 draw before the team secured a historic first piece of official silverware in a dramatic penalty shootout. With the Leagues Cup win, the team also secured a spot in the Concacaf Champions Cup for the first time, as the Club is set to enter the 2024 edition directly in the Round of 16.
Individually, two Inter Miami players also enjoyed the historic night in Tennessee, with Messi becoming the player with most trophies in the history of the sport with 44 and collecting Leagues Cup Best Player and Top Scorer awards. Goalkeeper Callender, meanwhile, earned Man of the Match honors for his stellar performance in the final as well as the Leagues Cup Best Goalkeeper award.
The summer of 2023 was an eventful one at Inter Miami with the recruitment of top personnel both on the coaching and player side that would end up having a positive impact and playing key roles in helping the team win the Leagues Cup title and advance to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final in the second half of the season. First, Inter Miami began shaping the Club’s new era by naming MLS Cup winner, two-time manager at a FIFA World Cup, three-time Conmebol Copa América finalist, Concacaf Gold Cup winner and former FC Barcelona and Argentina National Team manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino as its new head coach.
Inter Miami then caught the attention of fútbol fans worldwide with the marquee signings of seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi and legendary Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, thus reuniting both maestros after their lengthy spell as teammates at FC Barcelona. The duo was then unveiled to fans at a packed DRV PNK Stadium in a special event, la PresentaSÍon, on July 16.
There was still more to come though, with the Club announcing its third marquee signing and bringing in legendary former Spain national team and Barcelona left back Jordi Alba to reunite him with former teammates Messi and Busquets.
Last but not least, Inter Miami further bolstered its roster with young talent to close out its summer incorporations, signing defender Tomás Avilés and midfielders Diego Gómez and Facundo Farías as part of MLS's U-22 initiative.
Cremaschi Completes Player Development Pathway
Another proud moment for the Club this year was courtesy of 18-year-old Homegrown midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi. The Key Biscayne native of Argentinian roots made history by slotting into the starting XI in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 match against Miami FC in April to become the first Academy product to start for the First Team and at the time be the only player to have completed the Club’s player development pathway and start for every team he's played for within the organization all the way from the Academy teams, passing through Inter Miami II and, lastly, representing Inter Miami.
Ruiz Makes History
Fast forward a couple weeks and another Academy product was making further history for the Club, this time being David Ruiz. The 19-year-old Homegrown midfielder born in Miami and of Honduran roots opened the scoring in the sixth minute in the 2-1 win over New England Revolution on May 13, becoming the first Academy product to score a goal for the First Team.
After being unveiled a few days prior, what better way for Messi to greet Inter Miami fans than with a spectacular late winner? It was a humid Friday night in mid July and excited fans crammed DRV PNK Stadium to watch the Argentine icon make his debut in Inter Miami colors. The matchup against LIGA MX side Cruz Azul in the team’s Leagues Cup debut was tied 1-1 and a free-kick was called in favor of the hosts just outside the box in the fourth minute of added time. The stage was set, and everyone knows how the rest of the story goes. Top-left corner of the goal and Messi's first stroke of magic in South Florida made fans erupt in euphoria as the team claimed a key 1-2 win in the start of its Leagues Cup campaign.
Aug. 23 presented another pivotal game for The Herons, as the boys were in search of sending Inter Miami through to a second final in 2023 in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals matchup on the road against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Early on in the second half the home side was up 2-0 and seemed to be heading to victory, but a certain Argentine maestro and our towering Ecuadorian striker had other plans in mind. Buoyed by two inch-perfect assists from Messi, headers from Leonardo Campana inside the box in the 68th minute and in the seventh minute of added time got Inter Miami back into the race to fight for its place in the final. Forward Josef Martínez then gave the team a momentary lead in extra time in the 93d minute before Cincinnati equalized in the 114th minute to send the game to penalties. Inter Miami’s five penalty takers then scored from the spot to win 4-5 in penalties and complete the heroic comeback to secure the ticket to play against the Houston Dynamo in the final in the first ever final played at DRV PNK Stadium.
Robert Taylor Rocket
It seems like Robert Taylor only scores bangers, but unfortunately we can only fit one into this list. The pick for the bunch from the Finnish versatile attacker’s highlight reel of top class goals in 2023 was this volley from outside the box in the 2-0 home win over Philadelphia Union in the team’s second match of the regular season. The strike earned AT&T 5G Goal of the Matchday for Matchday 2 honors and ranked #1 in ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10.
Young Summer Signings Shine in Emphatic Road Win Over LAFC
On Sept. 3, Inter Miami claimed an emphatic 1-3 win on the road over reigning champions LAFC, with MLS U-22 initiative summer signings Avilés, Farías and Gómez all starting and shining in the matchup at BMO Field. Notably, Farías and Avilés tallied their first goal and assist for the Club respectively. Alba and Campana, meanwhile, netted the team’s two other goals on the night, and Messi dished out two assists as well.
Inter Miami and drama seemed to go hand in hand in the team’s Leagues Cup title-winning run. The competition’s Round of 16 saw Inter Miami travel to take on FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium for an action-packed battle. The matchup presented a thriller in which the team clinched its quarterfinals berth with a penalty shootout win in a match featuring a staggering eight goals in regulation. The match was highlighted by Messi’s third consecutive brace in the Leagues Cup, including a stunning 85th minute free kick equalizer, and a goal from second-half substitute Cremaschi with one of his first touches.
Inter Miami striker Martínez had a night to remember in the match against his former side Atlanta United at DRV PNK Stadium on May 6. The Venezuelan marksman guided the team to a 2-1 with a historic brace that saw him bag his first goals for the Club to become the fastest player to score 100 MLS regular season.
Your 2023 Inter Miami CF Squad
Special thanks to the full Inter Miami CF roster, coaching staff and support staff for their efforts in 2023.
Top Row: Olivia Minicucci, Jordyn Kaplan, Christian Dominguez, Noah Allen, Robert Taylor, Franco Negri, Robbie Robinson, Ryan Sailor, Sergii Kryvtsov, Cole Jensen, Drake Callender, CJ dos Santos, Kamal Miller, Tomás Avilés, Christopher McVey, Ian Fray, Lawson Sunderland, Edison Azcona, Garrison Draper, Silas Waszczuk, Juan Mesa, Steven Sanchez, Kei Utsumi
Middle Row: Sam Gregory, Mark Prizant, Meghan Cameron, Niki Budalic, Chris Henderson, Victor Ulloa, Jean Mota, Sebastián Saja, Damian Silvero, Manuel Alfaro, Jorge Theiler, Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, Rodolfo Paladini, Javier Morales, Dixon Arroyo, Nicolás Stefanelli, Diego Gómez, Connor Ceballos, Ben Young, Sofia Chambers, Walter Insaurralde, Evan Sokol
Bottom Row: Benjamin Cremaschi, Facundo Farías, Leonardo Campana, DeAndre Yedlin, Gregore, Leonel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Josef Martínez, David Ruiz
(Names of players and staff are listed by row from left to right)
After a fruitful 2023 year in which Inter Miami made strides both on and off the pitch, the Club looks forward to what lies ahead to build on the successes and milestones achieved this year.