Lionel Messi scored his first MLS goal off the bench in Inter Miami’s victory over the New York Red Bulls

Lionel Messi scored his first Major League Soccer goal off the bench as Inter Miami beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Messi made his MLS debut in the 60th minute, replacing Leonardo Campana.
  • Then he scored in the 89th minute to decide the match. Diego Gomez scored the first goal for Miami in the 37th minute.
  • Messi made his debut for Miami on July 21 and entered the match against New York having played 684 minutes in total. Before Saturday’s victory, Messi had played 390 minutes in four matches over the past two weeks.
  • With this victory, Miami is out of last place in the Eastern Division. The team now ranks fourteenth.

the athleteInstant Analysis:

A big win for Miami

Tonight’s result was a big hit for Miami’s Tata Martino Project. Since Messi’s arrival, it has become all too easy to say that Inter Miami wins because of the Argentina captain and his former Barcelona team-mates – Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. It’s a big reason why Inter Miami are unbeaten in nine straight games, but Martino’s system, or as Messi put it two weeks ago, his “clear ideas”, has also been a big factor.

Miami seemed comfortable and well prepared to face the pressure of the Red Bulls, even without the presence of Busquets and Messi as enforcers. — Cardenas


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The crowd goes wild

Four times in the first 10 minutes, the fans at Red Bull Arena exploded, saying, “We want Messi!” hymn. When the Red Bulls were on offense in the second half, the crowd stopped paying attention to cheering Messi when he came off the bench for the first time to start the warm-up.

The only noise louder was Messi getting in, the only noise even louder was Messi scoring in the 89th minute to seal the win for Miami.

The Red Bull Arena was not a Red Bull audience nor was it a Miami audience. Make no mistake about it, this was a Lionel Messi crowd.

The reaction here was very different from the booing he got in Philadelphia when Miami faced the Union in the Open Cup. Probably the majority of his Major League Soccer looks more like a Red Bull Arena fan haven than a Philly runner. — Bogert

Miami shows off its depth

Miami’s depth was in effect, a minor story to their summer window. Besides Messi, Busquets and Alba, Miami has added three talented up-and-coming youth internationals from South America through its Under-22 initiative: Tomás Aviles ($7 million fee plus extras), Facundo Farias ($5.5 million) and Gomez ($3 million). . . All three started and played the main roles.


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Gomez scored the opening goal. Aviles went for 90 minutes in the second half and Farias, in his first start, looked like Miami’s most dangerous attacking taker.

Martino put Miami into a 3-4-3 formation once again, showing tactical flexibility from the 4-3-3 formation he has been used to in most matches. They stayed in this system when Messi entered.

If they’re going to come from last to the playoff line, and make up a 14-point lead at the start of that stretch, they’ll need to go deep to get behind their starts.

On Saturday, they were back in Major League Soccer for the first time since their summer boom, they got it. — Bogert

What’s next for Messi?

Messi’s upcoming schedule includes MLS matches against Nashville and Los Angeles on August 30 and September 3 respectively, as well as two World Cup qualifiers with Argentina against Ecuador (on September 9) and against Bolivia (on September 12). The 36-year-old will feature matches against Atlanta United (September 16), Toronto FC (September 20) and Orlando City FC (September 24) in his schedule ahead of the US Open final against Houston on September 27.

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty)

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