Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — Inter Miami extended their unbeaten streak to 10 matches on Wednesday in their first home game in Major League Soccer since the arrival of Lionel Messi, but were held scoreless and squandered two crucial points in a 0-0 draw with Nashville. .
Finally, Messi had a tough night – by his standards – not contributing a goal or assist for the first time in the Inter Miami era. But he led all players by seven and had a golden opportunity to win the game with just seconds left, but Nashville goalkeeper Elliott Panico rose to deny Messi’s shot with his weaker right foot.
The Argentine star has played nine games for Miami since joining Major League Soccer in July, and all nine games have resulted in wins – six from series play and three via penalties in League Cup, US Open Cup and MLS matches.
Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, More (USA)
But on Wednesday, Messi’s magical left boot failed to deliver a decisive game, and Miami dropped points in their long quest to reach the Major League Soccer playoffs. It was the first time Miami had been tied scoreless since Messi’s arrival.
With Nashville designated players Walker Zimmerman and Sam Surridge not making the trip, and third DP Hani Mokhtar playing just 45 minutes, it was clear from whistle to whistle that their game plan was to keep as many players behind the ball as possible.
It was a tactic that frustrated Miami players and coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino all evening.
“When you put that many players in the opponent’s penalty area, of course you keep a clean sheet,” said Martino, who also lamented after the match about the lack of time to work with his team thanks to the tight schedule since taking charge. more.
“I was with the team for two months, but really I only had 50-52 days of actual work with the team. We didn’t have a full week of work with them. Playing every four days didn’t allow us to do that.” Enough time to really train and build this group.”
Messi started the match on Wednesday alongside his former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets, after the two entered Miami’s previous match against New York Red Bulls in the 60th minute.
Miami had no shots on target for the first 60 minutes as the team struggled to break through seventh-ranked Nashville’s defense.
Messi attempted a free kick in the 60th minute after fouling Nashville’s Dax McCarty, but the shot into the bottom left corner was blocked by Elliott Panico.
However, Inter Miami fans took out their phones to score the free kick, just in case the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored another similar goal to the one he scored on his debut – when he scored in the 94th minute to give Miami the win. Victory over Mexican club Cruz Azul in the opening match of the League Cup.
Then Nashville’s Hani Mokhtar goal was ruled out by an offside call in the 69th minute.
Messi got another chance in the 83rd minute, but the shot bounced off the defenders’ wall.
With this tie, Miami raised its tally to 22 points with ten matches remaining, 10 points behind the last place that Chicago Fire currently occupies. Messi and his cohorts will travel to BMO Stadium this weekend to play a game against the reigning MLS Cup champions, Los Angeles FC, on Sunday.
After that contest, Miami will have its longest break in over a month, not playing again until Saturday, September 9, at home against struggling Sporting Kansas City.
Unfortunately for Miami, they will be without Messi and up to 10 other players for that game due to international call-ups.
Ahead of Wednesday’s draw, Inter Miami showed off their newly-acquired League Cup to their fans. Co-owner Jorge Mas had a few words to say about his club winning their first title before Messi and former captain DeAndre Yedlin lifted the trophy to all four DRV PNK teams.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.