Callender rose to opportunity as Inter Miami keeper in 2022, aims to build on success

Did you want to see me broken?

Head down and eyes down?

Shoulders falling like tears,

Weakened by my moving cries?

You can shoot me with your words,

You can cut me with your eyes,

You can kill me with your hate,

But always, like the air, I will rise.

Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise

Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender, who writes and performs poetry in his spare time, is a big fan of Maya Angelou. His well-known poem, “Still I Rise”, resonates with him and inspires him.

His words were particularly apt during Inter Miami’s 2022 season, when one of the team’s most uplifting stories was Callender’s transformation from longtime substitute to MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist. .

The 25-year-old Sacramento, California native spent his first two professional seasons working with the club’s reserve team. Then, in the 2022 pre-season, when he had the chance to show his skills with the first team, he struggled in a scrum against CF Montreal.

This setback would have broken the confidence of many young goalkeepers. But Callender remained steadfast.

“Drake had a game in pre-season where he struggled quite a bit and if anyone had watched that game they might have said, ‘OK, that’s it for him,'” defender Aime Mabika said, one of Callender’s best friends on the team. “But knowing Drake and talking to him after that game, he stayed positive. He said to himself, “I’m going to get through this”, and nine months later he was a candidate for the title of Goalkeeper of the Year.

“So that’s the best way to describe Drake. He’s very calm in his thinking. He’s cerebral. He’s been through a lot.

And yet he got up.

Callender, who enters this season as an expected starter, is known for his calm demeanor. He is one of the Inter Miami players who meditate and practice grounding, a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that electrically “ground” or reconnect you to the earth, such as going for barefoot walks or wading in the ocean. .

That serenity kept him on track, and when Dutch veteran starter Nick Marsman went down with an injury in late April, Callender stepped in and was so impressive he ended up keeping the starting job.

He made 24 regular season starts, was named to the MLS Team of the Week three times, including a Week 12 performance in which he kept a clean sheet against eventual Conference leaders of the East Philadelphia Union and he made an ESPN “SportsCenter” Top 10 save.

Callender prevailed in the final stretch of the regular season with save winners against Columbus Crew and DC United, followed by a clean sheet against Toronto FC.

“A lot of people don’t understand how difficult it is to be a goalkeeper and to live what he did, basically two and a half years where he wasn’t playing,” Mabika said. “You do everything you can in training, but only one can play. So for him to finally have that opportunity and run away, I was really happy for him.

Callender said he was “satisfied” with how far he had come but would not settle.

“I want to continue to build on how I’ve grown over the past two years,” he said. “Every day I show up to improve, the guys push me to improve. I see myself continuing to grow and excel in this role. I want to be a leader and more vocal in the locker room.

Another focus is footwork, an area in which Marsman excels.

“We want to retain possession, so the ability of a goalkeeper to be used in possession, to hit accurate passes, is huge,” Callender said. “It gives everyone confidence. It’s definitely a part of my game that I will continue to improve.

Remarks: Striker Leo Campana, who was ill earlier in the week, was back in training. … Newly signed Argentine players Nicolas Stefanelli and Franco Negri are awaiting their visas and are expected to join camp later this month. … South American powerhouses River Plate (Argentina) and Millionarios (Colombia) play a friendly at 7 p.m. Saturday at the DRV PNK Stadium. Among the players on River’s roster is former Inter Miami centre-back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who is on loan there for the second season. Tickets for the match are available on

Comments are closed.