GONZALO HIGUAIN has played in a World Cup final and the biggest club games in Europe.
But Sunday night, here in South Florida, the former Argentina, Juventus and Real Madrid hitman will need to produce a miracle by dragging David Beckham’s Inter Miami into the MLS play-offs and stop their debut season ending in failure.
Inconsistent Miami need to beat rock- bottom FC Cincinnati and pray other results go their way if they are to finish in the Eastern Conference top ten and reach the postseason action.
USA legend and top TV analyst Alexi Lalas reckons disaster is brewing.
He said: “This isn’t just Inter Miami we are talking about.
"This is David Beckham’s Inter Miami and when you associate yourself with that global type of brand, it comes with expectations of being big, sexy and flashy.
“That hasn’t happened on the pitch and although the lack of fans hasn’t helped with the launch, if they don’t qualify, absolutely it will be a failure.
“Expectations have been high but it’s been disappointing.”
Manchester United and England legend Becks has been glued to the TV back home but must have spent plenty of time behind the sofa as Diego Alonso’s strugglers bagged just six wins from 22 matches.
The former Three Lions skipper expected big things at the start of the season, with his right-hand man, Jorge Mas, telling fans glory was on the way after six years of waiting for the club to actually start playing.
This campaign, however, has been a bit of a golden balls-up.
Argie striker Higuain who moved from Italian champions Juve in September and led the line in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany, has scored once in eight games.
French World Cup-winner Blaise Matuidi, 33, and fellow star player, 26-year-old Mexico international Rodolfo Pizarro, have also found the going tough.
Higuain, 32, is keeping the faith and said: “I have great experience in very important games and I am sure I can help the team. I’m used to dealing with the pressure.
"I have played at the highest level but there are others in the squad and on the coaching staff who have won titles in the past and I hope we can reach the play-offs.
“For our first year that would be great and no team has ever won the MLS Cup in their debut season, so that’s the dream.”
With the coronavirus pandemic throwing a spanner in the works after losing their first two matches in March, Miami restarted the season in July at the ‘MLS Is Back’ tournament — and crashed out after losing all three games.
Their first win finally arrived on August 22 — a 3-2 defeat of Florida rivals Orlando City — and although the signing of Matuidi, also from Juve, has helped Alonso’s men bolster midfield, goals have been hard to come by.
Former Celtic and Sunderland winger Lewis Morgan has been the star for Miami, topping the scoring charts with five goals, as well as leading the way in assists.
Yet this long-awaited rookie campaign for Beckham’s franchise will be a failure unless the 24-year-old super Scot can weave some more magic against Cincinnati.
The new Inter Miami stadium in Fort Lauderdale will welcome around 2,000 fans, some of whom have begun to snipe on social media about the lack of effectiveness of the big-name stars, as well as targeting boss Alonso.
The Uruguayan, 45, was given a hospital pass when he was appointed at the start of the year.
Many of the players had already been signed after the club’s top brass failed to bring in the likes of Patrick Vieira and highly rated River Plate boss, Marcello Gallardo.
Former Valencia frontman Alonso had just 62 days to get his message across before the opener against Los Angeles FC but should get another crack next season to turn things around if the worst happens.
Five teams are battling for two available play-off spots on ‘Decision Day’, with Thierry Henry’s Montreal, DC United, Chicago, Atlanta and Becks’ boys all in the mix.
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