Photo

As the first high-profile player to leave European football for the US’s floundering MLS league in the mid-2000s, Beckham made waves. He traded in his position with Real Madrid, one of La Liga’s crowning jewels, to head to LA to play in what’s still considered to be a retirement league.

Shortly after Beckham’s move in 2007, Irish legend Robbie Keane also made the move to the west coast MLS franchise. Though each had a different motivation for crossing the Atlantic, fans and pundits back in Europe had quite a few opinions about the trend—and few were kind.

However, behind the scenes, there were other factors at play. Though few knew it at the time, one of Beckham’s primary motivations for heading to LA wasn’t just glory and a startling paycheck—it was to position himself within the MLS for the long haul.

Keane, in contrast, was brought on to whip US footballers into shape. Not only did this have to do with technical training and conditioning, but also with mentality. In short, Keane and Beckham were there not just to tread water prior to a cushy retirement, but to help evolve the league from the inside out.

Sure, Beckham’s face brought in new fans while Keane riled the long-time football lovers in the US. However, now that Beckham has become part-owner of Inter Miami, it’s clear the league is there to stay.

Photo

Battle for Inter Miami

When Beckham signed on with the LA Galaxy in 2007, he positioned himself to help expand the league someday. The contract included an option to buy an MLS expansion team for a set price of $25 million.

Over time, Beckham formed an ownership group that would help him create a successful franchise. At the time, he was competing against other groups like FC Barcelona and individual entrepreneurs to exercise his option to buy an expansion team.

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami was officially approved by the MLS to become an expansion team alongside Nashville SC in 2018. After a struggle to set up a stadium in Miami (which is home to NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL franchises and stadiums), the club announced its debut for the 2020 season. Inter Miami played its first game against LAFC in March of 2020, losing 1-0 at the away game.

Despite the slow start for Inter Miami, Beckham’s maneuvering in the MLS is a positive sign that the league will likely continue to gain momentum. Sports betting will help the league gain a foothold with more ‘soccer’ fans in the US.

In addition to covering major league sports like the NFL, NBA, and MLB, up-and-coming sports betting sites in the US feature the MLS alongside the Premier League and the Champions League. Still, the MLS has a long way to go before it’s featured on international sites regularly.

Roster and Record

At the moment, Diego Alonso, manager of the mega-popular Liga MX football franchise CF Monterrey, is the head coach for Inter Miami. His assistants include another former Uruguayan player, Fernando Gonzalez, as well as top professionals from Argentina, Wales, and Spain.

Much like the technical staff of Inter Miami, the roster is also full of international players. Of the 36 players, only 12 hail from the US. While such stats may not be shocking for pundits of European football, this type of roster in the MLS shows that the league is maturing and expanding beyond the US.

Christian Makoun of Venezuela and Matías Pellegrini of Argentina are attracting attention as top players. Meanwhile, other players, like Drake Callender and Jay Chapman, are both ‘homegrown’ players from Inter Miami’s developmental academy.

Unfortunately for the new franchise, they’re off to a rocky start. While the altered and sporadic MLS season has left ample challenges for the squad to sort through, they’ll need to improve on their current record if they want to take home an MLS Cup anytime soon.

Currently, Inter Miami has played 12 games. Their record is 3-2-7. They’re ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the Eastern Conference.