Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender was delighted after the club lifted the Leagues Cup by beating Nashville SC (10-9 on penalties) after a 1-1 score in regulation time at Geodis Park on Saturday. Callender said it’s a huge honor to play a role in the team’s first win in a final.
The team’s talisman Lionel Messi continued his purple patch, scoring in the 23rd minute of play with a brilliant strike from just outside the box. This was Messi’s 10th goal in his seventh appearance for the club.
However, the home team bounced back after Fafa Picault found the back of the net in the 57th minute through a header after ricocheting from Miami’s Benjamin Cremaschi.
After extra time, Drake Callender netted the final penalty and also made a winning stop against Elliot Panicco.
“It’s a huge honor to play a role in our first win in a final,” Callender said. “It’s pretty surreal. Very emotional. This team works so hard day-in, day-out to be able to perform like this on a night like this. And to have it come down to the very end, it was amazing to see the grit, just the belief of what we’re capable of. It’s something special and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”
The custodian added he tried to stay as calm as he could during the 11 rounds of penalties.
“I just had to stay focused, breathe through it, stay as calm as possible,” he said. “I mean, this atmosphere here tonight is electric. So I embraced the moment and I just believed in the work that I put in and the repetitions I put in leading up to that moment, and it just ended up going our way.”
Nashville head coach Gary Smith feels they were the better team on the day but Lionel Messi was the difference between the two sides in the end.
“I have to say from where I sat, I felt as though we were able to put ourselves in a position in the end where we might have stolen it,” Nashville boss Gary Smith said after the match. “I thought we were slightly the better side. You’re looking at, again, the greatest player on the planet possibly being the difference in what went on today.
“But if you look across the tournament and, and what this Miami side has been able to do to other teams, confidence they’re playing with, [I’m] incredibly proud of what the guys have produced. And of course, to come back and get ourselves on level terms and really look to try and win the game as well in, in what was a very, very good final.”
Inter Miami will next face Cincinnati in the US Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday.