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MLS is Back: Inter Miami’s Julian Carranza poised for breakout tournament

Inter Miami paid a multi-million dollar transfer fee last summer to make Julian Carranza one of the club’s first two signings.

Inter Miami fans and MLS as a whole are about to find out if it was money well spent.

Inter Miami is set to restart its inaugural season on Wednesday by opening the MLS is Back Tournament against in-state rival Orlando City. The match will be the third in the expansion side’s history and the start of what the team is hoping will be a long and productive stay in Central Florida.

But that is not all the game could represent.

Wednesday night’s affair might also mark the Inter Miami debut of Carranza, a promising young striker that the club acquired almost a year ago to the day via a transfer from Argentine side Banfield. Carranza had the misfortune of missing Inter Miami’s first two games of the MLS campaign prior to the pandemic shutdown because of a foot injury sustained in preseason, but he is back to full health and poised for a breakout tournament.

The 20-year-old center forward boasts good technical skills and quickness, and that combination is one of the reasons Inter Miami officials are so high on him. He is also fairly experienced despite still being in the beginning stages of his career.

Carranza played 40 games in the Argentina’s first division prior to joining Inter Miami, with more than half of those appearances coming as a starter and some of them under the guidance of former great Argentine striker Hernan Crespo. Carranza has also played for his nation’s under-23 men’s national team on multiple occasions.

Beyond all that, it may be Carranza’s nose for goal and overall movements in the final third that were the biggest factors in attracting Inter Miami. He did not exactly light up the scoreboards in Argentina, but his haul of 10 goals in league play as a teenager going up against older players in one of South America’s most competitive leagues showed he was a player with plenty of good starting points and promise. The type of promise that Inter Miami is banking on translating well in MLS.

“Julian is a very grounded player with an impressive work rate,” said Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough when the team signed Carranza on July 26, 2019. “He’s the player that strives to score goals and is very good in the box.”

It is not really a secret that Inter Miami needs goals and more of an attacking punch. That was made clear during the first two games of the season, a 1-0 road loss vs. LAFC and a 2-1 defeat away to D.C. United. Rookie forward Robbie Robinson earned the starting nod in both those games and showed some good glimpses, but he will not be available for the MLS is Back Tournament after leaving the group this week for personal reasons.

With one less striker available, Carranza’s chances of grabbing the starting position up top have increased. He still has to beat out Juan Agudelo for the spot in the lineup, but what works in the Argentine’s favor is that he is a natural number 9, whereas Agudelo does not have a clearly defined position and has bounced around a number of different attacking roles in his career. In fact, Agudelo even played some center midfield last year.

If Carranza ends up being head coach Diego Alonso’s preferred option up in Wednesday’s opener and for much of the MLS is Back Tournament, there will be ample opportunity to impress. If Carranza can then make the most of his MLS debut by generating danger and delivering goals, Inter Miami will stand a good chance of making a deep run.

Carranza may still be largely unknown to MLS and Inter Miami fans, but that might not be the case for much longer.

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