Three Up, Three Down: Callender's heroics, Messi's two assists lead Inter Miami to crucial 3-1 win at LAFC

Inter Miami had one of its best all-around performances Sunday in one of its most important wins, 3-1 at defending champion LAFC, to gain three important points and keep alive its slender playoff hopes. After each match, Inter Heron shares its thoughts on the Herons' three most impactful and three least or most negatively impactful players in pink. And, no, if you're wondering, Prince Harry nor Selena Gomez nor Jason Sudeikis made the cut.

Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender defends the Herons' net in a 3-1 win Sunday at LAFC.
Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender defends the Herons' net in a 3-1 win Sunday at LAFC. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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La Rosanegra likely won this match in the first 20 minutes. The home side came out in a cloying high press, turning Inter Miami mistakes into fast breaks several times, only to misfire at short range or fire the ball too close to goalkeeper Drake Callender, who made two of his trademark highlight-reel saves during the early onslaught. It was during this sustained pressure that, in the 14th minute, Miami surprised the Black & Gold with a well-placed through ball from center back Tomas Aviles to forward Facundo Farias sprinting up the right channel. Farias slid to reach the ball and booted it to the far post, where it bounced off the bar and into goal.

The mood at BMO Stadium immediately dropped from an enthusiastic, joyful party to murmuring confusion: What just happened? The sellout crowd didn't have the same impact during the ensuing hour or so, and Miami added a pair of goals on Lionel Messi assists to Jordi Alba (51st minute) and Leonardo Campana (83rd) while keeping LAFC off the board until the 90th minute, when Ryan Hollingshead diverted a Carlos Vela cross into the net to prevent Callender's clean sheet.

History buffs, take note; Inter Miami doesn't have much history, yet, so they're busy making it as we watch! Sunday's match is the first in which all six Summer 2023 signings started: the gray-haired Barcelona Alumni (Alba, Busquets and Messi) and the promising trio from South America (Tomas Aviles, Facundo Farias and Diego Gomez). Player guru Chris Henderson may have completed (or begun) the masterpiece of his life's work with this summer's signings; Sunday's match may mark the second birth of Club Internacional de Futbol Miami.