As a lot as Inter Miami CF’s history-making Leagues Cup run centered round Lionel Messi’s greatness, unsung heroes supplied fixed reminders of their significance to the Herons’ revamped, ascendant squad.
Callender made 5 saves in regulation time and one other two within the ensuing 11-round shootout (10-9), stopping each Randall Leal and fellow goalkeeper Elliot Panicco. The rising US worldwide even scored a PK himself, permitting Miami to earn their first-ever trophy.
“As soon as I noticed that I used to be going to need to take one, I used to be fairly excited,” Callender mentioned postgame. “I had by no means taken a PK like that earlier than. It was my first skilled aim. In addition to I had two saves within the shootout, and I hadn’t made a save in a shootout earlier than as a professional.
“It feels good to work exhausting and be ready for these moments. Luckily, we have been capable of come out with the win.”
Callender’s penchant for massive moments was a persistent theme all through Leagues Cup as Inter Miami, behind a transformative summer time switch window, have quickly tailored to new head coach Tata Martino’s ways and the force-magnifying impact of ex-FC Barcelona superstars Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Whether or not it was Callender’s heroics in opposition to Nashville, within the group stage vs. Cruz Azul or the semifinals vs. Philadelphia Union – it got here as no shock that he earned the Leagues Cup Finest Goalkeeper award.
“The factor with him is he is set that customary now,” mentioned Miami proper again DeAndre Yedlin. “So persons are stunned once they see it, however I am not stunned after I see it. I am stunned after I do not see that.
“That is simply Drake, that is the extent that he is set and it is unbelievable as a result of after I first got here in, he was the third goalkeeper. He grew to become one among my actually shut pals and simply to see his progress has been unbelievable.”
Drake Callender was a current school grad at Cal in 2019 when he was acquired by #InterMiamiCF for the twenty seventh decide and $150k in GAM.
He’s 1 of two gamers who’s been right here from the beginning. Now he scores the penalty and saves the penalty to offer Inter Miami their 1st Trophy!
— Ian Hest (@IanHest) August 20, 2023
With Callender offering a basis behind middle backs Kamal Miller and Sergii Kryvtsov, Miami now flip the web page to a US Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday at MLS-leading FC Cincinnati. If the chips fall Inter Miami’s means, they may host the Sept. 27 remaining and vie for one other trophy.
Inter Miami, already into the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup Spherical of 16 (bye as Leagues Cup champions), may also hope to climb the Jap Convention desk into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs discipline. They’ve 12 factors to make up with 12 video games to go, however with these like Messi and Callender stepping up, the Herons will consider something is feasible.
“Any time we play in a non-league competitors, in a cup sport, it places us ready to raise a trophy,” Callender mentioned. “Sure, the attributions we have had from Leo and all the brand new gamers have been wonderful, nevertheless it’s a crew effort. It is the collective strive for greatness that led us to the place we’re proper now.”