Lionel Messi. Simply.
Good. Since arriving in MLS, the Argentine has been the one that all eyes are on, and with good reason. He scored in all his matches on the North American continent.
On Saturday night in the League Cup Final against Nashville, he did it again. This time, thanks to a shot from outside the penalty area past four defenders. Then the skin went on to join the upper part. Another stroke of genius.
However, the hero of the game for Inter Miami was goalkeeper Drake Callender. In addition to his multiple runs over the course of 90 minutes to force penalties, he was the true messiah of this final. His moment of glory came on the 11thH penalty shootout round.
After all the players fired, the gatekeepers clashed. The Inter Miami goalkeeper sent his powerful shot high into the net and then blocked his counterpart’s shot, signaling the end of the game. Referee: A 1-1 victory (10-9 in tab) for Miami and the first cup in its history.
Miami, from zero to hero
When Lionel Messi decided to sign with Inter Miami, the club was bottom of the league. It’s been the same thing ever since. The reason is simple, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner only participated in this League Cup, a summer tournament organized by MLS and the Mexican Championship to enhance the season.
Except that if we count on this tournament’s performance, Inter Miami looks invincible. And even if the club has only dozens of matches left and the road to the playoffs is still only a few percentages based on miracles, this scenario is very realistic.
Inter Miami have resounding victories, with David Beckham’s club scoring no fewer than three goals against all of their MLS rivals – besides this Final. This is a bit of what marked the path of Inter Miami during this tournament.
In fact, in seven League Cup matches, Miami has scored as many goals as in its 22 games a season (22). Lionel Messi, his Barcelona buddies who joined him, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, as well as former teammates like Robert Taylor, have launched Miami almost out of reach.
Except for this ending.
The ‘M’ in MLS does not yet represent Messi
After humiliating one of the MLS powerhouses, the Philadelphia Union, in their home, one can wonder if Inter Miami can be defeated.
Nashville, without being victorious, proved to be a more than worthy foe. Indeed, the home players had the upper hand over the visitors for much of the match. They ignored this super goal from Messi and then set the pace by neutralizing the Florida team’s attack.
In fact, Sam Surridge and Hany Mukhtar both had golden chances to give Nashville the lead, but they both ran into Callender.
At the end of this tournament, which is punctuated by Messi’s 10 most notable goals, we will be reminded that yes, sometimes MLS defenses can be destroyed in spectacular fashion. On the other hand, what is mind blowing is that just eight months after being named the best player in the World Cup, Lionel Messi still manages to work magic on a football field like never before.
Whether here or elsewhere, he is a hero.
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