Jeff Carlisle, U.S. soccer correspondentAug 20, 2023, 02:00 AM ET
CloseJeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Inter Miami CF co-owner David Beckham called his side’s penalty shootout triumph over Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final “a very special night” and praised fellow owners Jorge and Jose Mas as “the perfect partners.”
Miami was pushed to the limit by Nashville, who fought back from a first-half Lionel Messi goal to equalize through Fafà Picault in the 57th minute. The Herons were then poised to win the shootout with their fifth attempt, only for Nashville keeper Elliot Panicco to save Victor Ulloa’s attempt. The shootout continued into the 11th round when both keepers were called on to shoot. Miami’s Drake Callender drilled home his spot kick and then saved Panicco’s effort to give Miami an improbable tournament victory.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & more (U.S.)
“Tonight was a very special night, I think for, not just for our club, [but] for our fans, players, our families, and all of our staff that have been involved in this journey with us,” Beckham said. “But it wasn’t easy. Tonight was a very difficult game. Nashville put up an incredible fight. It was very close at the end, and congratulations to them as a club, as an organization and as players, because it was a very difficult game. But it was just our night tonight.”
Beckham recalled his own difficulty with penalty shootouts, including a miss in the knockout rounds against Portugal at Euro 2004.
“I’m not the biggest fan of penalties,” he joked. He then added, “It’s never easy watching these games end like this. And for the teams that actually don’t end up winning, it’s a tough moment. But every [Miami] penalty was incredible.”
Beckham could appreciate the victory more than just about anyone else. He began his quest to put an MLS expansion team in Miami in 2014, only to suffer numerous setbacks in terms of finding additional investors, as well as a path to a stadium deal. But his fortunes began to change in 2017 when he brought on Jorge and Jose Mas as co-owners. The three men then bought out Masayoshi Son and Marcelo Claure in 2021.
David Beckham holds the Leagues Cup alongside Inter Miami CF co-owners Jorge Mas, left, and Jose Mas, right. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
“It’s been a long journey for me,” Beckham said. “But a few years back, I found the perfect partners to be on this journey with me, and the perfect family, and that was the Mas family. To be on this journey with them makes it even more special because as a family, they care about not just each other. They care about their city. They care about the club, everybody that’s in the club, and that means something to me.
“So we started this journey and it’s been a long one. I always knew that there was going to be bumps in the road along the way, and there was too many, to be honest. But tonight is a night that we are going to enjoy.”
Beckham also addressed the implication that Miami was given favorable treatment during the tournament.
“People keep saying that every time Leo scores one of these goals, every time [Sergio Busquets] makes one of these passes, every time Jordi [Alba] makes one of these runs, people say, ‘Is it a fix? And it’s the biggest compliment anyone can give these players because it is like a movie,” he said.
“You watch these players play, and it’s emotional watching them because everything about their play is beautiful. Everything about their mannerism is beautiful. Everything about them as individuals off the pitch is beautiful. So when they play, it’s emotional.”