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Can Beckham succeed in his bet in Miami?

It has been three seasons now since Inter Miami was born as a professional MLS club. David Beckham, the Spice Boy, always dreamed of being a club owner. His wish was granted, since in 2018, his team was born, before obtaining professional status two years later. In a championship without promotion or relegation as is the case in all major American sports, Inter Miami therefore has the future ahead of it. But for this to work, and to expand internationally (like any good marketing product, Beckham will not say otherwise), results are needed, and it is clear that at present, the Inter does not take off.

Dying results

In football, whatever one may say, a club is judged above all by its results. And since its establishment in MLS, to say that Miami makes up the numbers is a mild understatement. The first season MLS version Beckham ended in failure. 7 wins and 24pts in 23 league games in a season truncated by the Covid, but which obviously did not allow Matuidi’s teammates, who arrived during the season, to grab a place in the playoffs.

A new team, a new club even, the benefit of the doubt could be given. Unfortunately, the second season was not necessarily better. If on the accounting level, the result was still up (41pts in 34 games), the classification, it is perplexing: 11th out of 14, and the impression that the gap with the teams accessing the post-season is huge. Six small points then separated Inter Miami from DC United, but the overall impression still left something to be desired. But after all, isn’t that normal for a club with only two years of existence at this level?

The current season is hardly a success anymore. 9th has a small point from Charlotte 8th (which Miami did well to beat yesterday in an extraordinary match by its scenario), Inter are one game ahead of Atlanta or Columbus for example, and 7 teams stand in 4pts for the last two accessits. And again, the overall impression does not necessarily inspire serenity.

Failures all the way

Because yes, in the game, the shortcomings are enormous. If Beckham brought with him his lifelong friend Phil Neville, mayonnaise is hard to take. And unlike basketball, or American football for example, football stars think twice before landing near Fort Lauderdale. Since it was founded, the club has managed to attract two big fish from world football: Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain. The last came out of a successful season at Juventus but was not retained by the Piedmontese club. The second also arrived from Turin, but at the end of the race, he chained failures (Chelsea, Milan). In the end: yet still in the legs, Matuidi saw his contract as a player broken when he should have continued until the end of the 2022 season. He was finally offered a position within the coaching staff. ‘Inter. Probably a sign that we wanted to turn the Blaisou page quickly. For Higuain, the equation is different. Pipita still has beautiful remains, and proves it, sometimes, intermittently. But his physical form is beyond doubt: he is here in pre-retirement. He no longer seems to be the goalscorer driven by the rage to win, as he was in Naples for example. He is no longer able to chain the matches and finds himself replacing most of the time, within a team which does not however include a player reaching his ankle. Campana, the other center forward of the ‘Inter, in a pivotal role, is a very good player, especially in the aerial game, but we are still talking about Higuain, Argentinian international 75 times, holder in the final of the 2014 World Cup.

Latest example of Miami’s failed export to Europe: Kieran Gibbs. Solid side of the Premier League, he was often a starter for Arsenal before getting injured and diving. Like Higuain, he is no longer at the level and does not even start in a second-class club in MLS.

Complicated therefore for David Beckham to find a star who could tip his club into another dimension. However, examples of players who have attracted light across the Atlantic are legion. Starting with him, when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy after his move to Real. Always on the side of the city of angels, Ibrahimovic also left his mark on the American championship. In another register, Sebastian Giovinco, in the prime of life, carried Toronto to the top of the MLS. Thierry Henry on the side of New York (Red Bulls), David Villa or Frank Lampard also at Big Apple (but for New York FC), Wayne Rooney (DC United), all these players participated in promoting the expansion of MLS internationally, and of their club at the same time. What Miami aspires to.

A difficult identity to find

If on the ground, the results are not looking good, in the stands, the general atmosphere also leaves something to be desired. The first year marked by the Covid, the stands of Lockart Stadium sounded very hollow. Last year, with 13,300 supporters on average, madness was not in order either. But what about this season, where the scattered stands confirm a general impression already observed: the population of Miami is not a big consumer of sports, even less of football. As in basketball, but even more so in baseball, the bays are generally empty, or at least quite devoid. The conclusion is scathing. Of the 18,000 seats, if a third is occupied, the evening is a success. Americans do not have an overflowing passion for football. However, the population on the South Beach side is rather Hispanic, the Kop songs are all in Spanish. And we know that in Europe, the faithful Spaniards are sometimes very hot, even boiling and live for their team. But the public is unfortunately not a public of connoisseurs. Obviously, for the players, for the image, that leaves something to be desired.

There is still a lot of work for David Beckham and his whole team. At present, Inter Miami is far from the top of the MLS. So much the better, it therefore means that money does not solve everything. The road is long, but trust the Spice Boy to try to climb the ladder, one by one, and bring his franchise to the roof of the United States.


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