On July 15, Inter Miami CF introduced the signing of Lionel Messi, arguably the best soccer participant of all time. Messi has but to make his debut in league play; for the final month, the Main League Soccer schedule has been paused in order that the whole thing of the league, and the whole thing of Mexico’s Liga MX, can participate within the Leagues Cup. Since becoming a member of Inter Miami, Messi has shifted the staff’s fortunes, and on August 19, they confronted off in opposition to Nashville SC within the Leagues Cup closing.
The sport was eminently watchable. Messi scored the match’s first aim; Nashville equalized within the second half, and the sport went to a penalty shoot-out that went by way of all 10 discipline gamers earlier than the groups’ goalkeepers confronted off in opposition to each other. Miami keeper Drake Callender scored when it was his flip, then made a spectacular save to disclaim his Nashville counterpart, Elliot Panicco, when it was his time up. Cue jubilation on the a part of Miami. (If it’s any comfort to Nashville, each finalists will play in subsequent 12 months’s CONCACAF Champions Cup.)
On one hand, Messi’s seismic arrival in MLS is a sophisticated factor — it’s actually put extra eyes on the league, nevertheless it’s anybody’s guess what number of of them will stick round when Messi’s time in Miami attracts to a detailed. There’s additionally one thing a little bit absurd in regards to the diploma to which Messi’s arrival has reworked Inter Miami, a staff that presently has the worst report in MLS, right into a squad that will likely be competing in continental competitors in 2024.
To be honest, Messi’s arrival was half of a bigger rebuild of the staff, about which The Athletic’s Tom Bogert wrote a complete explainer. However for all that anybody tuned in to the Leagues Cup closing to see all Messi on a regular basis, what you’d truly see was a little bit completely different — specifically, an excellent recreation of soccer. A few of that got here from watching Nashville’s protection adapt to Messi; a few of that got here from each groups’ strong combination of veterans and up-and-coming gamers each home and worldwide.
After which there was this, within the closing moments of the sport.
It’ll be a busy week for Messi and his teammates — they’re set to play a U.S. Open Cup semifinal in opposition to FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, adopted by a regular-season match in opposition to the New York Crimson Bulls on August 26. Will the Leagues Cup win be sufficient to vary this staff’s fortunes in league play? We’ll know much more one week from tonight.
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