Benjamin Cremaschi's smooth rise through Inter Miami's setup sparks U.S. and Argentine interest

After making significant strides in his development in 2022, Inter Miami homegrown midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi  has set himself up for a period where he could have big opportunities in his career, both at the international and club levels.

Last November, he elected to sign a Homegrown Player contract with Inter Miami after he led the club’s U-17 team to win the 2022 Generation adidas Cup and was named to the MLS Next All-Star team. Also in the same season, he started impressing for Inter Miami II in MLS Next Pro.

At the same time, he was excelling for U.S. youth national teams. For most of 2022, it was with the U.S. U-19 team and then at the end of the year, he was invited to play with the U.S. U-20 team at a camp in conjunction with the full national team before the World Cup.

It was clear that Cremaschi had become one of the best American prospects in the 2005 birth year. While he had options from other clubs, he opted to sign his first professional contract with his hometown club.

“I had opportunities to go elsewhere but nothing convinced me,” Cremaschi told Soccer America. “I didn't want to leave my city. It's honestly an honor being able to represent Inter Miami, MLS, and everything. It's been great joining the club, passing through the academy, and having these experiences. ... It's just something that as a kid I hoped for, and it finally came.”

The start of the 2023 season was expected to see Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville gradually introduce Cremaschi into the first team. But that changed early in March during a 1-0 loss to New York City, just a week after Cremaschi’s 18th birthday, when the club’s captain and central midfielder Gregore suffered a serious Lisfranc injury that ruled him out for at least six months.

Miami is still learning to adjust without Gregore and has now lost four in a row. Also a central midfielder, Cremaschi has come off the bench late in the last three games and is looking to show that he can be part of the solution in missing their captain.

A lot has come Cremaschi’s way, but he has been satisfied with how the club has helped his transition into becoming a first-team player at such a young age. “The transition coming from the academy, passing through the second team and now being with the first team, has honestly been super smooth,” Cremaschi said. “Phil has been great throughout the whole transition. He's a coach that really pushes you. He'll be on you because he really wants you to improve and believes in you.”

Off the field, Cremaschi is also taking a bigger role. While he is not yet a first-team starter, he is one of the organization’s biggest prospects and a face of the local community where he grew up. Earlier this month he attended the World Baseball Classic final in Miami and sat in a box that was shared by the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat. There he spoke with two of his idols growing up: in Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade.

Now having completed the club’s development pipeline, he is also working with many of the club’s academy players to help them through the process.

Like many MLS clubs, Inter Miami is aggressively trying to develop homegrown first-team players from within their youth teams. Cremaschi’s reputation within the academy is strong and his presence as a mentor is important.

“It's great to talk to them and share my experiences,” Cremaschi said of his relationship with the academy. “I don't have much experience yet as a professional, but I know a couple of things that they probably don't know. That's where I came from and it's lovely to help younger kids achieve their goal. ... When I was an academy player, it meant a lot if someone from the first team went to watch a game. It just pushed me a little bit more. It would be amazing to be a role model to these kids.”

But the most significant indication of Cremaschi’s talent has come at the international level. After impressing with the U.S. youth teams in 2022, Cremaschi was called up to Argentina’s U-20 team in December for a camp in Buenos Aires. He was subsequently named to Argentina’s preliminary 28-player roster for the Conmebol U-20 Championships (which also serve as the confederation’s U-20 World Cup qualifying) but did not make the final 21-player roster. This was significant because as a 2005-birth year, he was playing up an entire cycle at the U-20 level for both nations — including being the youngest player on Argentina’s preliminary U-20 roster.

“They're both honestly amazing experiences,” Cremaschi explained. “It's an honor being called up by these two countries who are two countries that I feel very attached to. I am very fortunate having these opportunities that not many people have.”

Cremaschi has lived his entire life in the Miami area, but both his parents are from the Argentine city of Mendoza. Growing up in South Florida, he was immersed at home in Argentine culture and Spanish is his first language. As a kid, he would go back to Argentina twice a year to see family.

While he was in Argentina in December, he witnessed the country’s World Cup-winning celebrations after the epic win over France in the final.

“It was incredible, honestly, just seeing all the other fans come out after the game and just celebrating,” Cremaschi said. “I would also like to compliment the U.S. for their performances and just see how well they did with such a young team and just a couple of veterans like DeAndre [Yedlin]. It was just a very nice World Cup to watch for both nations.”

But now Cremaschi could be faced with a decision early in his career. Both Argentina and the United States remain interested at the U-20 level. The United States has qualified for this summer’s U-20 World Cup (as well as the 2024 Olympics for the U-23 level) and while Argentina failed to qualify, there are growing reports they could replace Indonesia as the hosts after FIFA decided to move the tournament. If that happens, Argentina U-20 coach Javier Mascherano could make changes to his roster and Cremaschi was one of the last ones cut from qualifying. Should Cremaschi play in an official youth game for either country, he would not be permanently cap-tied but could only switch by filing a one-time change of association with FIFA.

“He is a 2005 and I've let him know that in the next cycle, he's a very, very important player for our U-20's,” U.S. U-20 head coach Mikey Varas told ASN. “For this cycle, he still has an opportunity to play his way in. That'll depend on these next few months. A lot can change with players in terms of playing time at a first-team level and how they adapt to that.”

“We can't forget that we invited Benja into a U-20 camp already,” he added. “We invited him in before Argentina did, and that was a camp that we did side by side with the men's national team. I think Benja is pretty clear on how we value him and how we see him for our future.”

For Cremaschi, he is electing to take his time making a decision. He is still in regular contact with both federations but it is clear for him to even have future call-ups with either country, let alone a decision to make, it will all start with success at Inter Miami. Understandably, that is his priority right now.

“I'm in contact with both nations,” Cremaschi said. “It's a goal to play in the U-20 World Cup. ... But I want to take it step by step and day by day and just focus on trying to get some minutes with the first team and just trying to improve every single day to be able to have the opportunity to play in the World Cup. I'm still in contact with both countries, but right now, I'm just taking it step by step.”

Photos: Inter Miami

2 comments about "Benjamin Cremaschi's smooth rise through Inter Miami's setup sparks U.S. and Argentine interest".
  1. Santiago 1314, April 3, 2023 at 12:13 p.m.

    With so Many USA u20s that will probably be Held OUT by their Club Teams, it would be Great if He could get in as a "Replacement" and we Can see what he is Really made of.!?!?!?

  2. humble 1 replied, April 3, 2023 at 2:24 p.m.

    Santi, wouldn't you say that he's tested pretty good, every time Neville calls his number for Inter Miami? His MLS minutes are a pretty good guage of his progress.  This is - actually - the more interesting bit - in the article.  That Argentina - see his progress here - as a reason to take a look at him. Go back 3-4-5 years - this would not happen.  This is where MLS, to their credit is getting traction.  Raising the level of the game so that young talent is getting noticed.  This is an upward spiral. The more young talent is recoginzed and harvested from MLS - the more young talent will want to come here.  We'll see.  Early.     

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