Not since the ill-fated days of the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion has there been a top-level professional soccer club in South Florida before the arrival of Inter Miami CF in MLS this season.
In the years since the Mutiny and Fusion folded, the talent-rich youth soccer scene of the area has been left without a hometown club to join the academy with a clear pathway to MLS. Inter now have the chance to enhance the natural local talent.
They already have a local lad on their roster in US youth international standout midfielder George Acosta, who is ecstatic that kids like him will get greater chances with Inter.
“I’ve always said this, and every South Floridian knows this, there’s so much talent here,“ Acosta told MLSsoccer.com last week. „It’s sad to see a lot of these kids that don’t make it, because of their circumstances or not enough scouting. There’s a lot of talent here, now that Inter Miami is here it’s a big help.
“It could be the best area for talent in the country,“ he added.
Acosta, currently Inter’s only player from South Florida, couldn’t be happier to be back home.
“I’m extremely proud, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid,“ Acosta said. „There was never a team locally. I had to watch the others teams out there, hoping there’d be a Miami team. And finally, there is. I’m extremely excited to be a part of it. I knew around when I was 17-years-old that there’d be a team in a couple years. I always dreamed of being here one day.”
Around that time, Acosta was taking the path less traveled by American youth players, working through youth ranks in South America. He originally played the academy of Estudiantes before his stellar performances at the U-17 World Cup turned heads at Boca Juniors.
George Acosta, el autor del único tanto del encuentro para el triunfo de Boca 1-0 ante Unión en Reserva. pic.twitter.com/U6W14cGBf7
— SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) March 2, 2019
“It’s extremely difficult to breakthrough, man, those kids are different out there in South America,“ Acosta said. „All of them have so much talent and so much grit.”
At the Boca academy, which has produced the likes of Carlos Teves, Juan Roman Riquelme and many others, Acosta didn’t have the warmest welcome by some he shared the locker room with.
“I had teammates trying to injure me because I was taking positions from their friends,“ Acosta said. „One of the center backs on my team used to hate me, he’d make fun of me all the time and injure me in training.”
One particular game that Acosta recalls, they were tied 0-0. Boca’s center back continued to single him out, giving him a rough time during the game with critiques that Acosta believed to be unfairly specific to him. This is his teammate, mind you.
As the match wore on, with Boca still tied 0-0, Acosta went on to score a late game-winning goal. That center back was among the first to join in the celebrations.
“There were some that accepted me right away, but some that still don’t accept me to this day,“ Acosta said. „Going to a South American country as an American, they believe you’re babied and are worse than you really are. You have to prove every single day how good you are.”