Building A Champion: What To Expect As Inter Miami CF Builds Its Roster For 2020.

Miami, Fla. (Tuesday, March 26, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

We received more insight into how Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami is thinking about filling out its roster in advance of its inaugural season in 2020, by way of recent interviews. (1) see link below

In charge of building Miami is Sporting Director Paul McDonough, who was interviewed for MLSSoccer.com and offered some insight. Prior to being named as Miami’s Sporting Director, Paul, a Massachusetts native, was instrumental in building Atlanta United’s MLS Cup Championship team, and prior to that, also developed the roster for Orlando City Soccer Club for heir first its season in 2015. He has also coached on a university level including Assistant Coach positions at the University of Connecticut, University of South Carolina, Wake Forest University, and
the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg. At UConn he assisted with all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the Husky soccer program, with an emphasis on the recruiting portion. He has been a player representative for several years.

Expertise Building Expansion Clubs:

If soccer had an official designation of “expert”, McDonough could realistically carry that label; in fact it’s safe to say he has more experience building MLS expansion teams than anyone. The results also make for a compelling case.

Orlando City SC 2014-2015

In 2014, during Orlando City’s final USL season, the club named Adrian Heath its head coach and hired Paul McDonough to be general manager. Paul outlined a three-year plan to becoming an MLS Cup contender. He was also able to sign Brazilian star Kaká, who was a friend of owner Flávio Augusto da Silva and CEO Alex Leitão. Paul focused on bringing in young talent to fill out the roster. U.S. youth internationals Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner were signed and played with the first team in 2014. Additionally, Portuguese youth international Rafael Ramos was signed. Paul obtained Cyle Larin in the MLS SuperDraft. Kaká was the top paid player that season, and the other two available Designated Player slots went to a pair of young internationals — Carlos Rivas, a speedy striker from Colombia, and Bryan Rochez, a strong striker from Honduras. Orlando City was an in-form side late in the season and finished just one position in the table and five points out of the playoffs with a 12-14-8 record, still the club’s best-ever mark in MLS. When the club instituted a shake up of the front office after the season ended, Paul found himself demoted. He thereafter left the club.

Atlanta United FC 2016-2018

It took little time for Atlanta United FC to hire Paul, where he worked with club President Darren Eales (Atlanta United Front Office Profiles- Darren Eales), the Vice President of Soccer Operations, Carlos Bocanegra, (Atlanta United Front Office, Carlos Bocanegra) (Bocanegra is now the Vice President and Technical Director) and head coach Tata Martino to turn the expansion team into a powerhouse.

The team-building plan Paul unveiled in Orlando also worked in Atlanta. With ownership under Arthur Blank committed to spending money, he built a strong, young team that could compete early. He used a similar pattern of roster-building, signing a primary Designated Player and a pair of younger Designated Players. The DP was 23-year-old Venezuelan Josef Martinez who was transferred from Torino of Serie A, as well as young DPs Miguel Almirón and Héctor Villalba. The expansion side reached the playoffs. It it was Paul’s knowledge of how to maximize the MLS roster rules and roster building mechanisms that brought Atlanta to the summit, allowing them to pair Almirón, Martinez and Villalba with players like veterans Michael Parkhurst, Brad Guzan and Jeff Larentowicz, plus Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Julian Gressel, Carlos Carmona, Darlington Nagbe and Ezequiel Barco. That team finished the 2017 MLS season tied for fifth all-time in goals scored in a single-season (70), and fourth all-time in goal differential (+30). The trio of Designated Players in Martinez, Almirón and Villalba combined to score 41 goals – a higher total than five other MLS teams in 2017.

Miguel Almirón scored 24 goals in 2018 for Atlanta United FC’s attack-minded roster.

Taking those experiences into account, here are some of Paul’s thoughts as to the structure of Inter Miami, its style of play and the type of players he is looking at.

Miami will likely resemble more Atlanta than Orlando in terms of spending. Indeed, within MLS at the present time there seems to be two camps of owner/investors; those who want to push for more spending and those who would prefer to keep a tight lid on spending. Miami will be a club not afraid to splash the cash for the right players.

In an interview Monday, March 25, 2019 with Magic City Soccer, Managing Partner Jorge Mas had this to say:

“Our team headquarters have walls full of prospective rosters. I think our fans will be extremely happy with the type of players we are looking at. I anticipate that our fans will see a type of Atlanta United model. Our scouts have been in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico in the last four months, and we have a prospective list of players. We will field a team that is competitive right out of the gate. I anticipate announcing our head coach in the October time frame, and we have two finalists.”

Jorge Mas, Managing Partner, Inter Miami CF

With his experience in Orlando and Atlanta to draw on, McDonough knows how to properly build a successful expansion team. Make no mistake, this will be a high pressure situation, and Miami sports fans are not known for their patience. However, the resources are there, and the owners feel he is exactly the man who can make it all come together.

McDonough says he will use all three Designated Player (“DP’s”) spots in Miami’s first season in the league, with two of those players on the books by the time the 2020 campaign begins. A third could be on the roster in time for opening day, though McDonough said that third DP could also join over the summer. To some degree it depends on which DP the club goes for first. Each DP signing impacts what player the club might pursue for the second DP, and same for the third.

The club is actively putting the “Internacional” in Miami’s name to good use. Engaging in a worldwide scouting effort, McDonough, technical director Kurt Schmid, a longtime scout with Seattle and the LA Galaxy, and Director of Soccer Operations Niki Budalic, formerly Orlando City’s GM, have attended games on several continents in recent weeks. They’re not currently involved in negotiations with any players, but McDonough said they are having “informal discussions” regarding several. We should expect the first signings over the summer and into fall. Meanwhile, the Inter Miami CF Academy is expected to launch in the summer.

Miami being the attraction that it is, the rumour mill is in full swing about which players will arrive. In all cases, the names are big ones. Inter Miami is prepared to pay large transfer fees or salaries on the right players.

McDonough didn’t say whether he is looking at a big name like he had in Orlando City with Kaká, or gather several young talented players like he did in Atlanta. He did say that if they go for a big star, then that requires at least another player who has the ability to complement the big star. Otherwise, the big star can become overburdened.

“In Atlanta, the ambition was known right out of the gate: We were going to try to be competitive from Day 1,” McDonough told MLSsoccer.com.

paul-mcdonough-sporting-director-inter-miami-expansion-atlanta-united-fc-20151216

“We spent that way, that was the approach, to be very competitive in Year 1 but not go crazy so that we could keep the roster together and make a serious push in Year 2. And look, it worked out perfectly. And this in Miami, the ambition will be very much the same.”

Paul McDonough, Inter Miami CF Sporting Director

“I think the thing with Atlanta, the young DPs all were similar age and I think that was really, really important,” he said. “Targeted Allocation Money allowed us to build more of a balanced team when you had Chris McCann, Carlos Carmona, Leandro, Guzan and Parkhurst as our main guys, so the experiences and the balance in age was better for Atlanta. Whereas in Orlando, you had Kaká and a bunch of young kids we were trying to build around. And in all honesty, it probably just wasn’t fair to Kaká. You look back on it and that’s my concern, if I brought one big DP in, I would need to bring some guys in that had experiences that mean they’re basically allowed to be in the same dressing room as that guy, that have the experiences of playing in big games at big clubs and things like that.”

Tactically, expect Miami to play “in an attractive, attacking style,” says McDonough, without elaborating on any particular formation.

4-3-3 Attack Minded Formation – For Illustration Purposes Only

The eventual manager will need to be able to function well in Miami’s international, multicultural atmosphere, as well as be adept at managing big personalities, who often carry a reputation for being difficult to manage. A great manager finds a way to get the most from his players. McDonough’s experience should help in this area too. “It’s super, super important that we get someone that can handle the pressure and the big personalities that potentially could be here,” he said.

“Look, this is really big challenge. Professional soccer in South Florida, it’s been a mess for quite a while,” he said. “I tell everyone, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have to pick a direction and make decisions that’s best for the club and really what’s going to be best for soccer in South Florida. And they’re all kind of waiting to see if we deliver on what we say. I tell the guys, it’s just really, really important that whatever we say we’re going to do, we do well, and we follow through. We have to. We’re going to be the stewards of soccer in South Florida. We have to do this right.”

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Continue reading Building A Champion: What To Expect As Inter Miami CF Builds Its Roster For 2020.

Inter Miami CF negocia com a FIU após recusa de Marlins

Depois de negociações mal sucedidas para jogar no Marlins Park e Hard Rock Stadium, O Clube Internacional de Futebol Miami recorrem ao plano “C” para ter um lugar para seus jogos da MLS.

Miami, FL (3a, 12 de fevereiro 2019) por Kenneth Russo –

Inter Miami CF, o clube de David Beckham, não tem estádio para jogar seus jogos em casa na MLS em 2020. Suas primeiras opções eram: Estádio Hard Rock, casa do NFL Dolphins e Marlins Park, casa dos Marlins MLB, mas devido aos calendários das competições, as diretrizes desses estádios recusaram-se a render um espaço.

Agora, o conselho da Inter Miami CF está negociando com a Universidade Internacional da Flórida (“FIU”), para poder jogar os jogos de 2020 no Estádio Riccardo Silva.

Embora o estádio apresente alguns problemas para a Inter Miami CF jogar lá.

O principal problema para Inter Miami desempenha na FIU, é que o estádio já abriga uma equipe profissional, Miami FC, clube onde os proprietários são Paolo Maldini e Riccardo Silva. Este último é o empresário para quem o estádio da FIU foi nomeado em sua homenagem.

O próximo problema é que, segundo Sean Flynn, CEO de Miami FC, a prioridade do estádio está definido para clube faculdade e suas atividades, a segunda prioridade é a programação para Miami FC, de modo Inter Miami teria que adaptar-se aos eventos das outras duas equipes.

O Estádio Riccardo Silva foi fundado em 1995, hospeda as reuniões do Miami FC e da equipe FIU Golden Panthers, no futebol americano universitário. O estádio custam de US $ 54 milhões e no ano 2007-2008 passou por umas atualizações, onde a sua capacidade tornou-se 20.000 espectadores.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Inter Miami CF Enters Into Agreement with KIN

KIN Partners will be the exclusive sponsorship sales representation agency.

Miami, FL (Tuesday, February 5, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami (“Inter Miami CF”) continues to make impressive steps in its development, now with slightly more than one year before it kicks off play in North America’s Major League Soccer.

The club announced on February 1, 2019, that it has entered into a contract with the London-based firm, which is headed up by industry veterans Simon Oliveira and Matthew Kay, KIN recently expanded into Miami and Oliveira, the Managing Director of KIN, has previously worked on Beckham’s other business projects. Among KIN’s roster of international clients is Neymar, Jr.

KIN’s role will be to identify and develop sponsorship opportunities for the expansion club.

“Miami is recognised as a global city with a mix of wonderful cultures and we cannot wait to start working with both the vastly impressive ownership group and one of the most exciting properties in world sports today,” said Matthew Kay.

The announcement comes within days after Inter Miami put forward plans to build a training facility, including a multi-purpose stadium, on the site of the Lockhart Stadium, previously used by the now defunct North American Soccer League’s (NASL) Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Given the transformational aspect of Miami Freedom Park, partnering with an international agency appears to be a smart move. Interest in Inter Miami CF has been high, and the home of the team, in addition to a 25,000 seat stadium, a public park and public soccer fields, will feature hotel, entertainment and retail space as well as a technology hub. It is a US$1 billion complex that will create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city, county, state and school board.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Inter Miami CF celebrates its 1st birthday! A year of firsts. ¡Inter Miami CF celebra su primer cumpleaños! Un año de novedades.

Miami, FL (Tuesday, January 29, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Happy Birthday Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami! January 29, 2018. It has been one year. One year since David Beckham took the stage at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center and delivered a famous speech in which he recounted how his academy coach once told him “You’ll never make it as a footballer.” “I never quit,” was Beckham’s reply. One year since Marcelo Claure also gave a speech recounting the story of the more than four years between the original announcement on February 5, 2014, during which he and David Beckham tried unsuccessfully to secure a stadium site and to find suitable investors in order to be able to launch the Miami Major League Soccer Club. About how he and David had concluded that the dream was “too big” and against their wishes, had decided to move on. One year since Jorge Mas gave an emotionally charged speech in which he told the story of how he had been contacted by MLS Commissioner Donald Garber, who asked him if he would be interested in co-investing and helping David Beckham get the Miami franchise off the ground, and what Miami has meant to his family and those of people who come here from other places to make a better life.

Between January 29, 2018 and September 5th, the club used the name “Fútbol Miami” as a placeholder while deciding on the actual name, colours and logo. We knew the owners were getting closer, and during the summer several potential team names appeared in trademark searches online at the USPTO. These names, trademarks by lawyers at the direction of companies connected to Miami Beckham United, LLC, included many outstanding names including Club Atlético Miami, Miami Mundial Club de Fútbol, and others. See USPTO Search. 

One of the biggest highlights of the year came before daybreak on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. In the predawn hours, a giant mural painted by local artist Alejandro Mijares was revealed on the walls of a building at the corner of SW 8th Street and SW 1st Avenue in the Brickell neighbourhood of downtown Miami, revealing the club’s name and badge.

The Wall of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami in Brickell.

At the same time, the team had the front and back covers of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald wrapped in pink with the team’s logo and explanations about the symbology. Mijares also painted the newly revealed logo on a wall in the Wynwood neighbourhood.

The morning papers on Sep. 5, 2018
Logo painted on a wall in Wynwood.

In the months since then, the club had many firsts. Soon after, plans were announced to redevelop Melreese Golf Course into the future home of Inter Miami CF and Miami Freedom Park. In July, we endured two full days of hearings before the City of Miami Commissioners, in a the effort by Miami Freedom Park, LLC to have a measure placed on the ballot to allow residents of the City of Miami to decide whether the City should negotiate to enter into a long-term lease of city-owned land at the Melreese Golf Course. In the end, three out of five commissioners approved.

On November 6, 2018, the club celebrated its biggest victory to date: the measure to transform Melreese Golf Course into a world-class stadium and Miami’s largest park, along with 23 acres of public soccer fields, an office/hotel complex with technology jobs and entertainment area passed with a strong majority of voters saying “Yes on 378.” “We won tonight!” are the now famous words of Jorge Mas.

It was also a year when the club made its initial moves on the soccer operations and business sides of the front office. Paul McDonough was the first staff member to be hired when he was appointed to the post of Sporting Director in August, just a few weeks before the unveiling of the club´s name and badge. A short time later, on September 20, 2019, Jurgen Mainka, who had previously worked at Concacaf and other MLS Clubs, was named as the club’s first Chief Business Officer. In October, the club named Dennis Sprenkle as the head of HR and Administration. At the beginning of January, 2019, Kurt Schmid joined as the first Technical Director, followed by Niki Budalic as the first Director of Soccer Operations. In the last couple of weeks prior to the one year anniversary, the club began laying the foundation of its Academy, adding Victor Pastora and Juan Carlos Michia, both of whom had been key figures in the famed Weston Football Club youth academy program.

Indeed, it was a year of many firsts. What lies ahead for Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami? A look at this video tells us: “Wait, that was just the beginning. We’re not done. Not by a long way.” It is going to be an exciting 2019.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

What is a Homegrown Player?

Miami, FL (Monday, January 21, 2019) –  

The Homegrown Player rule is one of several manners for a Major League Soccer club to acquire players. But how does it work?

Follow this link where I explain this mechanism in detail. Continue reading What is a Homegrown Player?

Miami Freedom Park takes another step forward as negotiations with City of Miami are given go ahead

Miami, FL (Wednesday, January 16, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Miami Freedom Park. “Let The People Decide.” After much debate, the people of Miami were allowed to decide. They voted on November 6, 2018, and the people said, “Let’s do this.” And now, the next phase of making the dream a reality took another step forward. The will of the people will prevail.

It’s coming.

As reported today in the Miami Herald by Joey Flechas, Jose Arrojo, executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, confirmed that the lobbyists involved in the soccer stadium deal had fulfilled their registration requirement. Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez was officially informed by the county ethics commission Wednesday morning, via a letter advising her that the issue regarding lobbyists’ registrations had been resolved.

Miami’s city administrators thus have a green light to work out details of a 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park, LLC. Despite the fact that the complaint remains open, the city can begin negotiating the lease under the broad terms overwhelmingly approved by voters in the November referendum.

City Manager Emilio Gonzalez and his staff will work with Miami Freedom Park, LLC, of which Jorge Mas is currently the sole member. (1) The basic terms of this transaction were made part of a term sheet agreed to as part of the city commission sessions on July 17, 2018. (2) Now, the parties will begin negotiations and a prepare a document that will outline the terms under which Melreese Country Club, located on 131 acres of public land adjacent to Miami International Airport, will be transformed into the visionary Miami Freedom Park — a $1 billion private development that will have a 25,000 seat stadium in a 10-acre corner of the property that will serve as home to Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami and which will include Miami Freedom Park, a 58 acre park that will be the city’s largest, as well as public soccer fields. From there, a formal ground lease can be drafted and presented to the city commissioners for ratification.

While there is much discussion in the Herald article concerning the ownership structure of Miami Freedom Park, LLC, in reality a limited liability company can easily alter its legal ownership in a straightforward procedure to add additional owners, who are referred to as ‘members’. This means the other investor-owners of the soccer team (which is operated under Miami Beckham United, LLC) would be admitted at the appropriate time. It is a fairly common practice in commercial transactions. As it stands right now, the primary business interest of Miami Freedom Park, LLC will be what is known as a ‘leasehold interest,’ i.e., the ground lease with the city, and that of course does not exist yet. Thus, the issue of who the members of Miami Freedom Park, LLC are is not relevant since there is no interest to share yet with other potential members. The terms and conditions of the lease must first be worked out. Moreover, there are also practical and necessary reasons beyond the scope of this article as to why the company holding the lease with the city is different from the entity owning Inter Miami CF, reasons that have nothing to do with lack of transparency.

It should also be mentioned that during the two days of sessions held at city hall last summer, which I attended, the issue of the identities of the principles of Miami Freedom Park, LLC was never raised by city commissioners or officials.

What’s next for Miami Freedom Park? Once a lease is agreed to, it requires the approval of four out of five city commissioners. With Commissioner Reyes eternally opposed based on his interpretation of ‘the process’ and Commissioner Gort also speaking against, the Herald writer made a point of including the usual rhetoric from Reyes and Gort, and described the likelihood for success at the city commission as being “a long shot.” But that sells this vision short. Critics and doubters have been spelling doom for the Miami MLS project at every step of the way over the past five years – and they’ve been wrong every time.

When asked about the chances of success, Jorge Mas had this to say: “The city of Miami voters spoke loud and clear in overwhelming fashion. And no matter the delays or obstacles we will deliver this project to our residents.”

“We have instructed our team and lawyers to ‘GO’ and bring this before the commission as soon as possible with the exact deal and benefits voters approved,” Jorge Mas stated. “We fully anticipate that the commission will listen to the voters and residents, but reiterate we are in this for the long haul if necessary.”

This dream that David Beckham and his co-investors have has always been about having vision, about the power of perseverance and the determination to never give up. In the words of Beckham himself at the formal announcement of Fútbol Miami just about a year ago, “I never quit.” It must succeed, and it will. No matter how big the obstacle, I know where I’m placing my money.

Miami Herald – City can begin negotiations on lease

________________

(1) Miami Freedom Park, LLC is a Delaware Limited Liability Company, with its principal business address in Miami. It was filed in Delaware on 5/16/2018, and is duly authorized to do business in Florida.

(2) Link: Term Sheet for Ground Lease and Master Development Plan re Miami Freedom Park

Rendition of Miami Freedom Park by Miami Freedom Park, LLC

Want to Establish a Great Culture at Your Soccer Club? Do this first.

Miami, FL (Tuesday, January 15, 2019.)

At the core of any successful company is a great culture. To establish one, think about how you want your company to impact the world. Where does one begin this?

Football (Soccer/Fútbol) clubs are no different. What do two of the largest clubs have to say about this? What does a new club do first?

Read more to find out with the link below!

Continue reading Want to Establish a Great Culture at Your Soccer Club? Do this first.