Inter Miami played a well-organized match against in-state rival Orlando City at the Leagues Cup, which ended with a 3-1 victory at the Herons’ home ground. The little magician from Argentina is once again in the front seat on the journey to the next round of the Leagues Cup. His brace against Orlando clearly sends a message to Major League Soccer that he came here with a clear mission to conquer the league with the Herons.
Inter Miami started the match with a 4-3-3 formation against Orlando, with Busquets at central defensive midfielder and Messi as the left winger. On the other hand, Orlando started with a 4-2-3-1, with their main concern being defensively solid with a 4-man backline and double pivot.
Messi drifts inside to orchestrate the Herons’ attack
But during the game, we found that Messi was operating towards the center position, where he typically plays for Argentina and has played in the last few years for both Club Barcelona and PSG. That means the position of a pure number 10 was designated for Messi in the game plan of Tata Martino. And Messi was at his best in this role.
Orlando City started with a clear intention to put pressure on the Herons from the very beginning of the match. But it took only six minutes for Miami to take the lead and put the pressure back on Orlando’s Lions. It was a sensational goal; a glorious feed from the left winger, Robert Taylor, who cut inside and lofted a fantastic pass over the top of the Lions’ back line to a completely unmarked Messi. He chested it down and slammed it on the volley. Pedro Gallese had nothing to do about it. It was pure artistry.
But the lead didn’t last long. In the 16th minute of the match, Ivan Angulo took a shot after receiving the ball from a corner kick but was denied by a fantastic save from the Herons' keeper, Drake Callender. But Cesar Araujo got the rebounded ball and took the opportunity to get the ball through Callender's legs.
The Herons had multiple chances during the first half, but Messi's shot in the 31st minute just touched down the sidebar, and Taylor had a good hit from a distance, but it was a little wide from the top right corner.
Soft penalty gives Miami the lead
At the beginning of the second half, Josef Martinez was clipped by Antonio Carlos as he chased a through ball, and Inter Miami had a chance to go in front as Ivan Barton pointed to the spot. There was very little contact, but the further question here is whether Martinez would have reached Benji Cremaschi's through-ball. Probably not, as Pedro Gallese was off his line and about to collect.
There was a long VAR check, but the call survived. It was a very soft call, but there wasn't much concrete evidence on the replay to overturn it. Carlos was booked for his challenge.
Martinez won it, so he stepped up to take it...and Martinez scored. He took a stutter step at the final spot, and Pedro Gallese held his line, but Martinez then sent him the wrong way with the eventual hit! The score gives Martinez nine goals in 12 career games against Orlando City.
At 72 minutes, Messi got his second goal of the match, the third for Inter Miami. He started the move with a pass leading Robert Taylor down the left side. The winger floated a perfect ball to Josef Martinez eight yards out at the far post, and he chipped it back centrally for Messi, who whacked it on the volley past Pedro Gallese, this time with his right foot. It was his fifth goal in three matches!
In extra time, Orlando managed to score their second goal, but it was unfortunately denied by the VAR.
Jordi Alba made his debut at MLS in this match; he came on the pitch at 63 minutes as a substitute for Miami's left-back, Noah Allen.