Diego Alonso likes players that are fully invested to the cause and ultra competitive. At the same time, he is not fond of players letting their emotions get the best of them to the point they get ejected from matches.
That is why he recently sat down with team captain and star striker Gonzalo Higuain to have an honest conversation.
Inter Miami is heading into this Saturday’s edition of the Sunshine Clasico vs. rival Orlando City knowing that Higuain will not take part. The Argentine forward is suspended for the home game due to the red card he received after the final whistle in this past weekend’s 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact for berating head official Timothy Ford, something that Alonso discussed with Higuain after the fact.
“Without a doubt we do not like for anyone to be sent off and we had a conversation in that regard,” said Alonso in Spanish on Thursday. “I like for players to defend themselves on the field, but on the field. It’s not necessary for him to get sent off to see his commitment to the team because you see it permanently. He has a very, very big commitment with the team, with the players, with the club, with the coach.
“It is something that we have to correct, without a doubt. The referee can’t be an excuse in the game. It has to be on us to do things better. It is something that is in the past, we’ve moved forward, we’ve talked about it in private, and we understanding everything clearly and look ahead now.”
Higuain’s absence vs. the Lions means Inter Miami will have to fill the No. 9 spot with someone else. The main candidate is veteran Juan Agudelo, who has seen plenty of time at center forward, but other options are youngsters Julian Carranza and Robbie Robinson.
“The loss of Gonzalo is significant for us without a doubt,” said Alonso. “He is our Designated Player. He is a top player, not only in the league but also throughout his entire career, which demonstrates his importance. However, we have also played many games without him and we have done a good job.
“We confide in the players behind him, and we will try to make it so that his absence is not felt and that the team can have a good performance.”
Here are more Inter Miami news and notes:
Pizarro set to return after finishing quarantine
One player is out, but another is back in.
Inter Miami will welcome back Rodolfo Pizarro to a matchday roster on Saturday after the star midfielder missed the last four games. Pizarro was away on international duty with Mexico in recent weeks, and had to fulfill a subsequent mandatory quarantine period that is required by MLS.
“He will be available for Saturday and without a doubt he’s a player that is very important for us,” said Alonso. “We confide and believe a lot in him. He knows the responsibility he has and we think he can help us a lot. He was at a very, very notable level in the first few matchdays, and we need to rediscover his best form so that we can compete even better as a team.”
Pizarro will need to be as close as to his best as possible in order to help Inter Miami’s chances of picking up three sorely-needed points vs. Orlando City, especially with prolific attacker and goal-scorer Higuain out.
“I think Rodo can give us rhythm, too,” said centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. “He can give us good football and I hope he has a really good performance on Saturday and that we can get the win.”
Alonso labels Saturday showdown “a final”
Inter Miami is two points off the final postseason spot with four matches left to play, which makes this home game vs. Orlando City that much more important. So much so that Alonso labeled it a final on Thursday.
“This type of game, especially for the fan base, is generally important, without a doubt,” said Alonso. “But a final is much more important than a rivalry, and we are playing a final on Saturday.”
One added benefit for Inter Miami is that it will have thousands of fans in the stands for the first time ever. The expansion side is opening the doors of its stadium to a select number of supporters on Saturday, and that should give the team a boost.
“We are excited, happy that the fans can join us,” said Alonso. “Surely, they will be the 12th man on Saturday.”