He may have only played 12 games for Inter Miami, but that was enough to teach Ryan Shawcross all about the trials and tribulations of Major League Soccer.
With its condensed schedule, monstrous travel demands, and break-neck physicality, MLS is not a league for the faint-hearted. Even for a player like Shawcross, with over 300 Premier League games and a senior England cap under his belt, it can be a shock to the system.
The former Manchester United and Stoke City defender is about to head back to England as he pursues a career in management. But not before he opened up on his 'frightening' experience in the United States.
"It was good [playing abroad]. It was something I did at the start of my career [on loan] at Antwerp. It’s something that I really enjoyed, and I wanted to do again before I finished. When the opportunity arose, I was really keen to do it," Shawcross told the Mirror.
"The geography of the country… the distance you have to travel for away games is frightening. You’re doing four, five-hour plane journeys every weekend. That’s probably the most difficult part.
"But the setup out here is amazing. The facilities are top-notch and it’s a league that is really improving. Every year since I got here, the standard of players coming in and the quality has got better."
Despite the anticipation around David Beckham bringing his club into MLS, Inter Miami have endured a tough start to life in the league. The Herons only scraped into the Playoffs in their 2020 expansion year due to an extended field, while they missed out altogether last year. This season, they've been inconsistent at best under Phil Neville.
But with the ambition of the Mas brothers (Jorge and Jose), Beckham, and Co, Shawcross believes it's only a matter of time before Inter Miami become 'one of the biggest clubs in MLS'.
“The owners are hugely keen to make Inter Miami a global brand and a global team. I’m pretty certain they will [do that]. They’ve just got permission for a new stadium, which is going to be amazing – I’ve seen the images of it," he added.
"Going forward, it’s going to be a huge club. It’s definitely going to be one of the biggest ones in MLS. It’s just a matter of time. The only problem is they are such a young, new club – these things take time. But I have no issue in thinking they’ll be one of the top teams in MLS."