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Leandro Gonzalez Pirez ready to debut in Inter Miami home opener

Inter Miami’s most recent signing will not be available to play in the home opener on Saturday, but another one of the team’s latest additions likely will.

Probably as a starter, too.

Inter Miami is set to welcome Orlando City to town on Saturday night for the second chapter in the budding Sunshine Clasico, and the match between the Florida rivals could mark the Inter Miami debut of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. The Argentine centerback is officially cleared to play for his new team after signing as a Targeted Allocation Money player in July, and Inter Miami might be best served to start him in this one.

Even if only as a lucky charm.

“I never lost a game against (Orlando City),” said Gonzalez Pirez in Spanish on Thursday. “I hope that Saturday will keep us on the same path and on the same streak so that we can grab a win that will be important for the team’s spirit and to maintain my undefeated record against them.”

In truth, Inter Miami signed Gonzalez Pirez on July 1 from Liga MX side Club Tijuana to bring more than just a change in fortune. The team thinks he was one of the best central defenders in MLS during his fairly recent and successful spell with Atlanta United, and is confident the form he showed there will carry over to this season and beyond.

“I feel that Leandro is going to help us be a better team on the defensive side, and the team will surely fare better in that facet with him,” said Inter Miami head coach Diego Alonso in Spanish earlier this week. “At the same time, I think he’s a player that will help us be a more attacking team because he’s a player that is really good with the ball when it is time to attack and build from the back.”

What the arrival of the 28-year-old Gonzalez Pirez means for Inter Miami from a tactical standpoint remains to be seen. Alonso has alternated between using a four-man defensive line and a five-player setup featuring three central defenders this season, but Gonzalez Pirez’s introduction may allow the manager to settle on one look more permanently.

Gonzalez Pirez stated Thursday he likes playing in both of those, and that he has been using practice to gain good chemistry and a solid understanding with fellow centerbacks Nicolas Figal, Andres Reyes, and Roman Torres.

“We are getting to know each other,” said Gonzalez Pirez. “They are excellent players. We are adapting to one another very fast because of their qualities, which is important for us because it gives us a quick ability to function as a team and to minimize errors so that we can win games.”

Gonzalez Pirez is determined to help Inter Miami turn things around this season, and he is more than excited about the possibility to play in matches again. He was limited to only practicing during the MLS is Back Tournament last month because of league rules, a process he labeled “tedious” on Thursday.

That said, the focus is on what lies ahead for him and Inter Miami, beginning Saturday vs. familiar foe Orlando City.

“We know it hasn’t been the best start or the start we all were hoping for,” said Gonzalez Pirez. “But if you watch the five games you will see we have deserved to get results in many of them. The minor details have left us empty-handed, but we have been working on those details.

“I’ve also come to bring my experience given my age and the years I have had in the league so that those details can start to go in our favor instead of against us.”

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