In a thrilling final held at Geodis Park on Sunday, Miami defeated Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup. The Herons emerged victorious with a marathon shootout score of 10-9 after the game ended 1-1 in regulation time.
The 36-year-old forward, Lionel Messi, secured his 44th career title with this win.
Messi's first-half strike surpassed Dani Alves as the joint-top scorer, a player with whom he had been teammates for an extended period at the Spanish club Barcelona.
On July 15, Messi signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Miami, officially marking his move to America after concluding his European chapter.
He didn't have to wait long to clinch his first title at his new destination. Despite being at the bottom of the points list in the current MLS season, the team secured the championship after only seven matches played. Miami's historic achievement owed much to Messi's exceptional skills demonstrated throughout the season.
Messi also claimed the League Cup top scorer award with 10 goals and was named the tournament's best player.
His goal in the final provided Miami with a lead during the first half, only to be equalized by Nashville's Fafa Picault in the second half. Should no further goals materialize within the allotted 90 minutes, the game transitions directly to a tiebreaker, eliminating the need for extra time.
However, the true hero of Miami's marathon penalty shootout victory was goalkeeper Drake Callender. With exceptional prowess, he thwarted two opponents' spot-kicks and even managed to score a goal himself, sealing the team's triumph.
Following the championship victory, Messi engaged in on-field celebrations alongside his family members. He also participated in jubilant dancing with his teammates.
His fellow players commemorated the triumph by hoisting Messi high in the air. His significant contribution was pivotal in securing Miami's title, standing out as the most instrumental factor. Notably, Messi clinched both the tournament's top scorer and best player awards.
Subsequent to the celebratory festivities, Messi shared his reaction. Expressing his sentiments via an Instagram post, he conveyed that the culmination of his aspirations has not been reached. In his post, Messi articulated,
"Champions!!! I am exceedingly delighted to have captured the inaugural title in the annals of this esteemed club. Such an achievement was made attainable through the unwavering toil and dedication of all involved. With optimism for the future, let's consider this merely the outset... onward and upward."- Lionel Messi