Will He Or Won’t He? What to Expect As Inter Miami Aims for U.S. Open Cup

It’s perhaps the biggest question on the minds of Inter Miami and Houston Dynamo fans… Will Lionel Messi play as the Herons aim for their second trophy of the season?
Inter Miami's DeAndre Yedlin battles with Orlando City's Gaston Gonzalez in a recent MLS match.
Inter Miami's DeAndre Yedlin battles with Orlando City's Gaston Gonzalez in a recent MLS match. / Alex Menendez/GettyImages
2 of 2

Inter Miami Isn’t the Only Team In A Resurgence

Inter Miami’s U.S. Open Cup final opponent, Houston Dynamo, was a complete disaster last season.

Dead last in the Western Conference this time last season, the team fired manager Paulo Nagamura. But that didn’t stop the team from failing to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Fast-forward to today and the Dynamo sit fourth in the conference, firmly secure in a playoff spot and have drastically turned their fortunes around.

They average 1.43 goals per game in MLS play and have a plus-7 goal differential across 43 league matches.

U.S. Open Cup Final

Houston Dynamo vs. Inter Miami


8:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 27


DRV PNK Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale

How to Watch

CBS Sports Network

Houston Dynamo Form (last three)


Inter Miami Form (last three)


Additionally, they have turned their home stadium into a fortress, going 10-2-3 in Houston this year.

The bright spot for Inter Miami fans is that Houston is a dismal 2-9-4 on the road.

Attacking midfielder Amine Bassi leads the Dynamo with nine goals in league play while captain — and Mexican international — Hector Herrera is starting to show flashes of why Houston brought him from Atletico Madrid in 2022.

Houston’s biggest challenge will be how to defend against Messi — who is rumored to be playing in the final.

They’ll either have to play compact on defense or take Messi out higher up on the field… which isn’t outside the realm of possibility either.

What Inter Miami Has To Do To Win

First, Inter Miami has to answer the question of will he or won’t he.

Once that is answered, the rest of the pieces of the match should fall into place.

If he plays, you look at Leonardo Campana, Robert Taylor, Facundo Farias and even Benjamin Cremaschi to provide additional attacking options to take the pressure off Messi and give the Houston defense more to defend.

I expect Houston’s defense to be aggressive whether Messi plays or not, so Inter Miami manager Tata Martino and Co. will have to prepare for that.

But, being more aggressive means opportunities for mistakes and that will be something the Herons will have to look for.

In the end, the door is wide open for Inter Miami to pick up its second trophy of the season, so long as the gameplan is in place and everyone on the pitch is ready for a battle.

Roll on, La Familia, roll on.