Goalkeeper Drake Callender continues to build his brand with Inter Miami

After years of dedication and hard work, Drake Callender found himself at the center of a magical night for Inter Miami CF last August. In a tense penalty shootout during the Leagues Cup finals, Callender stepped up and became the hero, making two crucial saves and converting one goal.

“Maybe that’s some of my best performances in my career,” he said after the win. “And to be able to experience that tonight was a milestone in my career.”

He’s used that inspiration as fuel ever since.

Originally from Sacramento, California, the 26-year-old goalkeeper has emerged as a key figure in Inter Miami’s success. He joined the club in December 2019 after his Homegrown Player Rights were acquired from the San Jose Earthquakes. Following two seasons with Inter Miami CF II, he secured his position as the first-team goalkeeper in 2022.

Callender’s journey to professional soccer was marked by determination and perseverance, showcasing his talent and potential during his collegiate career at Cal.

In addition to his club success, Callender’s talent earned him recognition at the international level. He was called up to the United States Men’s National Team in April 2023, further solidifying his status as one of the nation’s top goalkeepers. His leadership, experience, and exemplary attitude make him a valuable asset both on and off the field.

“It’s a dream as a kid to get a call-up, it’s my second one this year so it’s another opportunity for me to grow as a player, play at a higher level, and to expose myself to just a whole other world of soccer,” Callender said in a press conference last season.

Before Lionel Messi’s arrival in July 2023, Callender had already shown glimpses of his capabilities. However, his performances often went unnoticed amidst the team’s struggles. With the influx of experienced players like Messi, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets, Callender found himself in a new light. The improved quality and experience of the squad provided him with the opportunity to shine and make crucial saves that led to victories, as seen in the Leagues Cup finals.

Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender dives for the ball during the second half of the team’s CONCACAF Champions Cup soccer match against Nashville SC, Wednesday, March 13, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Messi’s arrival not only elevated the team’s performance but also propelled Callender into the global spotlight. His stellar performances showcased his ability to lead the team to victory by thwarting opposition attacks. With Inter Miami boasting an improved lineup, Callender’s role became even more critical, as he played a vital part in securing wins for the team.

“We have a lot of experience in our locker room,” he said this season. “I think we all lead in different ways so of course there may be players who are more vocal or who are more leading by example but I think we all kind of understand what our mission is, I think that is the most important thing.”

When facing the media, Callender exudes professionalism and humility. He represents the team with grace, always speaking highly of his teammates and showing respect to opponents. His polished demeanor and dedication make him a true ambassador for Inter Miami.

His coach, Tata Martino, concurs. In fact, after a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he lauded his goalkeeper.

“He was decisive again,”  Martino said. “It’s largely thanks to him that the team was still in the match after the first half.”

As Callender continues to write his story with Inter Miami and the USMNT, one thing is certain: His journey is far from over, and his future shines bright.

Juan Aguirre Saravia is a college student from Buenos Aires, Argentina who is majoring in Digital and Interactive Media and Communication. He's currently engaged in a digital internship at Inter Miami CF in which he's determined to fuse his digital skills with his passion for 'fútbol,' aiming for a career in the digital landscape of this sport's world.