Benjamin Cremaschi: Inter Miami homegrown keeps Messi magic going | MLSSoccer.com
Now, the 18-year-old homegrown midfielder is doing his part to ensure this magical stretch alongside La Albiceleste‘s World Cup-winning superstar – whom he grew up idolizing – won’t end anytime soon.
Cremaschi delivered the decisive penalty kick in Sunday night’s eight-goal thriller at FC Dallas, giving the Herons a 5-3 win from the spot after Messi’s brace highlighted a 4-4 comeback draw. The Leagues Cup Round-of-16 pressure cooker didn’t derail Cremaschi, showing nerves of steel when staring down goalkeeper Maarten Paes.
“When they gave me the fifth penalty, I knew where I was going,” Cremaschi said postgame on MLS Season Pass. “I knew how I was going to take it and just trust in what I can do and it went that way.”
Cremaschi also scored in regulation time, netting in the 65th minute off Jordi Alba’s cross – one minute after subbing on for recently-signed U22 Initiative player Diego Gómez. The Florida native was dropped for the rising Paraguay international, then made an immediate impact when his number was called.
Cremaschi said he “tried to change” the game and “make a difference” with energy off the bench. That certainly left an impression on head coach Tata Martino when it came time to select penalty shooters.
“I asked him and he was convinced [about] taking the shot and he wanted to do the fifth penalty,” said Martino. “He didn’t have any problems. Second, because he was one of the players who had the fewest minutes and above that, we saw in the 30 minutes that he played that he was very confident.”
Cremaschi’s game-changing moments have Miami awaiting a Leagues Cup quarterfinal on Friday (Aug. 11) at home against either Houston Dynamo FC or Charlotte FC. They’re just three more single-elimination matches away from lifting silverware, having topped their South group before also beating Orlando City SC (Round of 32) in the knockout phase.
Yet the youngster is quick to deflect praise, instead calling out the rapid impact Messi, Sergio Busquets and Alba have had on a club that was flailing before this ex-FC Barcelona trio joined as centerpieces of a summertime squad makeover.
“You can see our mentality, how things have changed in this club, how we’re willing to fight to the last second, especially with the quality players that we have,” said Cremaschi. “We know that we could be down by a bunch of goals and still come back in a matter of seconds. It’s just believing in what we can do and believing that we could always get a win.”
There’s also belief in players like Cremaschi, who has experienced a far more significant role in 2023 than many anticipated. He only signed a first-team deal in November 2022 and, with injuries providing opportunities, has 1g/3a in 18 matches (14 starts) in league play.
Widely regarded as one of MLS’s better youth prospects, Cremaschi is now cherishing every moment of playing alongside Messi. In training, around the facility and at games, he’s soaking it all in.
“I don’t get tired of talking to him, I never will,” Cremaschi said after Messi’s latest heroics. “It’s amazing what he can do and nobody expected him to do what he’s doing. He scored twice and two times in almost every game and it’s just impressive. We can’t wait so we keep on going like that and [he] helps us to get as far as we possibly can.”
Benjamin Cremaschi on winning Inter Miami PK: “I knew where I was going”