Blaise Matuidi will not take part in Inter Miami’s home opener this weekend, but the plan is to get him involved at some point during the upcoming six-game stretch.
Just exactly when remains unclear.
Inter Miami is set to resume its inaugural season this Saturday night with the team’s first home game at Inter Miami Stadium, but the match against rival Orlando City will not include the talented Frenchman that signed late last week. Matuidi is still going through the visa application process, and, as is customary in these situations, there is no set timetable for when that will be completed.
“We hope to be able to have him in short order,” said Inter Miami head coach Diego Alonso on Tuesday. “He keeps filing his paperwork so that he can be with us very soon.”
Inter Miami may not know just when Matuidi will arrive, but the expansion club is planning to count on him during this regional phase of the 2020 MLS season. The 33-year-old midfielder will probably not finish his paperwork, travel, and undergo the ensuing mandatory quarantine period in time to play in any of the first three matches.
Still, the team’s idea is that he can earn minutes and make his debut at some point during the six games that run through Sept. 12.
“Everyone is excited to have him in the locker room and on the field,” said Inter Miami captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles. “It’s going to be awesome to have a player of his stature, of his quality, his experience. Just the winning mentality that he’s going to bring our group is going to be massive for us.”
Here are more Inter Miami notes:
Inter Miami heading into home opener with “disadvantage”
Inter Miami has not played a game in almost a month. Orlando City played just a week ago.
That disparity in game action is why Inter Miami wanted to schedule some friendlies during this down time before being told that it could not. The team did, however, hold an intra-squad scrimmage at its stadium on Aug. 8 that was played at night and with game-day uniforms to help replicate the feel of an official match ahead of Saturday’s resumption of the MLS campaign.
“We have the disadvantage of not having been able to play regularly,” said Alonso, whose Inter Miami last played on July 20. “The rivals, in this case Orlando, have had more games than us. They have had four more matches than us, which gives them the type of game rhythm that we have not been able to get.
“We tried to play friendlies and weren’t allowed to, so we’ve tried within our own work to replicate game situations or the matches that Orlando has had.”
Alonso added that Inter Miami has worked a lot in recent weeks to “fine-tune defensive situations” that have cost the team in multiple encounters, and the belief is that that will help the club grab its first win at long last.
“We are a work in progress, but we are close,” said Robles. “The work that we put in the last few weeks is the type of work that we can be proud of, and now we really have to bring all that to the table on Saturday.”
Robles: This won’t truly be a home opener
Saturday may mark Inter Miami’s first official match at its new stadium, but Robles does not think it will feel like a true home opener. Mainly because there will be no supporters in the stands after the club made the decision on Monday to play behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic.
“It is our home opener but it’s never really going to feel like that debut at our home stadium until its full of fans,” said Robles. “… It’s going to be great for us to be back on the field and really start the third part of our season … (but) until the stadium is rocking full of fans, it’s not truly going to be a home opener.”
Inter Miami remains in regular discussions with local health officials to see when it can safely open the stadium to the general public again.