In their first home Major League Soccer (MLS) game since the arrival of Lionel Messi, Inter Miami CF extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games. However, they were held scoreless in a 0-0 draw against Nashville SC. Despite Messi’s best efforts, the team dropped two crucial points in their quest to reach the MLS playoffs. Let’s take a closer look at the match and analyze the reasons behind Miami’s inability to secure a victory.
Messi, known for his exceptional goal-scoring abilities, had an unusually off night. He failed to contribute with a goal or an assist for the first time in his Inter Miami era. Despite that, Messi led all players with seven shots throughout the game. In the dying moments of the match, he had a golden opportunity to secure a win but was denied by Nashville goalkeeper Elliot Panicco, who made an outstanding save with his weaker right foot. This missed chance proved to be costly for Miami.
Nashville SC adopted a defensive strategy for the match, exemplified by the absence of their designated players, Walker Zimmerman and Sam Surridge, who did not make the trip. Additionally, third designated player Hany Mukhtar only played 45 minutes. Nashville’s game plan was clear from the start – keep as many players behind the ball as possible. This tactic frustrated Miami’s players and coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino throughout the evening.
Coach Martino expressed his frustration after the game, both with regards to the game plan deployed by Nashville and the lack of training time for his squad. Martino highlighted the compressed schedule since he took over as the main reason behind the limited training opportunities. In just two months, the team has only had 50-52 days of actual training together. The demanding fixture list, with matches every four days, has disrupted the team’s ability to build cohesion and develop as a group.
Inter Miami CF faced difficulties breaking through Nashville’s defense in the first 60 minutes of the game. The team failed to register a single shot on goal during this period. It was clear that Nashville’s defensive approach was effective in neutralizing Miami’s attacking threats, including Messi. The frustration grew among Miami fans as their team struggled to create clear scoring opportunities.
Although Messi couldn’t find the back of the net, he showcased moments of brilliance during the match. In the 60th minute, he attempted a free kick after drawing a foul, but the shot was stopped by the Nashville goalkeeper. This did not deter the Inter Miami faithful, who recorded the moment, hoping for another spectacular goal similar to Messi’s debut goal for the team. Unfortunately, the elusive goal did not materialize, and Miami had to settle for a draw.
With the draw, Inter Miami CF now sits on 22 points with 10 games remaining in the season. They find themselves 10 points behind the final playoff spot, currently held by the Chicago Fire. The team faces an uphill battle as they aim to secure a place in the MLS playoffs.
Miami’s next challenge is an away match against the defending MLS Cup champions, LAFC, at BMO Stadium. This will undoubtedly be a tough test for Messi and his teammates. Following this contest, Inter Miami will enjoy their longest break in over a month, as they won’t play again until they face a struggling Sporting Kansas City side at home on Saturday, September 9th.
However, Miami will face the challenge of being without Messi and other key players due to international call-ups for their upcoming match. This presents an additional obstacle for the team to overcome as they strive for success.
Before the draw, Inter Miami CF proudly showcased their recently acquired Leagues Cup trophy to their home fans. Co-owner Jorge Mas took the opportunity to address the crowd and celebrate the club’s first title. Messi, along with former captain DeAndre Yedlin, raised the cup proudly, representing the club’s achievements.
Despite their unbeaten streak and Messi’s individual efforts, Inter Miami CF faltered in their quest for victory in their first home game since the arrival of the football icon.
The defensive approach by Nashville SC proved to be effective, frustrating Miami’s players and coach. The lack of training time and the compressed schedule impacted the team’s ability to develop their playing style and cohesion. As the season progresses, Inter Miami will need to regroup and find ways to secure crucial wins to keep their playoff hopes alive.