Lionel Messi and Inter Miami had another first during their historic summer together.
Messi was held scoreless for the second time as Inter Miami finished in a back-and-forth 0-0 draw Wednesday night against Nashville SC at DRV PNK Stadium in a rematch of their Leagues Cup final from Aug. 19. This is the first time that Miami was shut out in the Messi era.
Messi had several opportunities to score on free kicks, as he has done while scoring 12 goals in his previous nine games with the MLS club.
But he was unable to recreate the Messi Mania magic that has made Inter Miami so entertaining since his arrival and first game in July.
While Inter Miami has yet to lose a match in the Messi era, Inter Miami and Nashville settled for one point in the MLS Eastern Conference playoff race.
Inter Miami likely will have to average more than 2 points per game in order to make the playoffs, so the tie doesn’t really help the playoff hopes (now at 4 points after 2 games).
Inter Miami’s next game is against reigning league champion LAFC in Los Angeles. LAFC did not have a game Wednesday night and will be well-rested.
Recapping the final minutes in regulation: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Messi entered the box and his shot was ultimately missed in the final minute of extra time.
Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar was aggressive in the final minutes of extra time, but to no avail. A corner kick in the final minute was sent the other way.
Messi attempted a shot in the middle of the field but it was blocked about three minutes into extra time.
Inter Miami’s DeAndre Yedlin was evaluated for a handball by VAR. But referees ruled against the initial ruling as we entered the 90th minute. It did appear a kick by Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg hit Yedlin before going out of bounds.
David Ruiz, after a bad foul a few minutes earlier, missed a shot on goal in the 87th minute.
Mukhtar’s free kick misses in 85’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar was fouled by Inter Miami youngster David Ruiz to set up a free kick just minutes after a miss by Messi.
But we’re still scoreless in this one.
Mukhtar’s kick was deflected by Inter Miami’s wall and play continues.
Messi misses free kick in 82’: Inter Miami 1, Nashville 0
Messi was taken down by Nashville’s Jack Maher in the 80th minute to set up a second free kick opportunity for him in the second half.
And he was unable to convert again.
Messi’s kick was defended by the Nashville wall and shot into the air after the deflection.
Offsides takes away Mukhtar goal: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar was ruled offsides after his shot in 69th minute.
Inter Miami avoided the deficit in a back-and-forth set of minutes from 65th minute that saw two other misses and a shot by Messi blocked.
Inter Miami’s Facundo Farías missed an attempt in 66th minute, while Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg missed a left boot in 67th minute.
Messi had another shot blocked one minute later.
Messi miss in 60’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Messi was fouled in the 59th minute to set up a free kick.
And Messi was unable to do what he does best.
Messi’s free kicks have had a knack of finding the back of the net during his Inter Miami career, but his left boot was met by the Nashville goalkeeper in the 60th minute.
A few minutes earlier, Inter Miami defender Kamal Miller chased down reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar to prevent a shot in the middle of the net in the 56th minute.
Miller celebrated with a fist in the air to get an ovation from the crowd.
Halftime: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Two yellow cards and another miss for Inter Miami in the final minutes before halftime.
Messi lobbed a beautiful pass with his left foot into the box for Robert Taylor, but Taylor’s left shot missed too wide to the left just before halftime in the 44th minute.
The pass was stellar. The finish was underwhelming. But the finish before halftime was entertaining. But both teams are playing each other tightly and physically during this rematch of their Leagues Cup game from 11 days ago.
Inter Miami’s Diego Gomez was given a yellow card following a foul at the middle of the field in extra time before the half.
Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets also received a yellow card for making contact with referee immediately after the whistle was blown. Busquets was not overly physical, and his contact appeared to be accidental. It appeared he immediately apologized, while the referee loudly told him to not touch him.
Taylor misses in 34’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Robert Taylor misses a strike in the 34th minute after a great look.
Of course, the shot was set up with a pass from Messi to Taylor in the middle of the field.
Inter Miami fans in attendance were ready to erupt after the team’s second shot of the game.
Messi foul met with boos: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Messi was called for a foul in the 25th minute as Nashville defender Lukas MacNaughton challenged an attack in the box.
Inter Miami fans in DRV PNK Stadium rained down with boos as possession changed.
Messi, two minutes later, delivered a stellar pass to Jordi Alba in the box, but it was defended well by Nashville.
20′: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0
Three free kicks for Leo Messi in the first 17 minutes of this game, but we’re still scoreless so far.
Nashville’s Jack Maher missed right footed shot from the center of the box is high and wide to the right in the 8th minute.
Inter Miami has been more aggressive on its side of the field in the opening minutes with three set pieces, but unable to convert.
Messi’s fourth free kick seemed to be taken by the wind, as Idalia (now downgraded to a tropical storm) has affected parts of South Florida with rain and wind for much of Tuesday.
Ken Griffey Jr. taking photos of Messi at Inter Miami game
Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. (with a photographer vest and equipment!) is on the pitch and taking photos in tonight’s game.
Griffey said hello to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. before the game.
Inter Miami’s Leagues Cup trophy celebration
Before the game, Inter Miami held a ceremony to celebrate their Leagues Cup title over Nashville from Aug. 19.
Messi and Deandre Yedlin held the trophy together and raised it to the Inter Miami fan section.
Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas addressed the crowd at DRV PNK Stadium.
“You, our fans, are responsible for making our first trophy happen,” Mas said.
Messi gets loose in warmups
Messi was all smiles during pregame warmups on the pitch before tonight’s game.
Here’s a quick video of Messi and the Inter Miami players warming up.
Inter Miami lineup: Messi, Busquets back in starting 11
After coming off the bench in Saturday night’s win over the New York Red Bulls, former FC Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets are back in the starting lineup tonight against Nashville SC. Jordi Alba, another former Barça player now in Miami, continues to be a starting 11 staple for coach Tata Martino.
Nashville SC lineup: 2022 MLS MVP on bench
Nashville SC, which is in the middle of a run of three games in eight days, is sitting some key players tonight.
Two of Nashville’s designated players – forward Sam Surridge and defender Walker Zimmerman – will not be available. The team’s third designated player, 2022 MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar, will start the game on the bench.
Will Messi play tonight vs. Nashville SC?
After coming off the bench in his last game against the New York Red Bulls last Saturday, Messi is expected to start in tonight’s game against Nashville.
Messi did not start so he could rest after a grueling start to his Inter Miami career.
Since his debut with the club on July 21, Messi has played in nine games with 11 goals and six assists.
And he could be on loan to the Argentina national team next month.
How to watch Lionel Messi and Inter Miami against Nashville SC
The Inter Miami-Nashville SC game can be streamed live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Will Messi miss any upcoming Inter Miami games?
Messi could miss up to three Inter Miami games due to national team duties, Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said after the 2-0 win over the Red Bulls last Saturday.
“The importance is that we value winning and winning this way because it’s something we have to get accustomed to. Leo is gonna miss at least three games,” Martino said. “He’s gonna get called up by his national team and others too. We know that the team has to continue to win without them at times.”
Martino didn’t specify which games Messi will miss, or if he’ll miss games due to rest.
Inter Miami’s upcoming schedule following Wednesday’s match:
Sept. 3: at Los Angeles FC
Sept. 9: home vs. Kansas City
Sept. 16: at Atlanta United
Messi could miss any of the next four MLS matchups as he will be with the Argentina national team for World Cup qualifiers. Argentina will face Ecuador on Sept. 7 and Bolivia on Sept. 12.
Two Inter Miami standouts joining USMNT
Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender and rising 18-year-old standout Benjamin Cremaschi have been called up to represent the United States men’s national team for the upcoming friendly September matches against Uzbekistan (Sept. 9 in St. Louis) and Oman (Sept. 12 in St. Paul, Minnesota).
Callender was named League’s Cup Best Goalkeeper and earned the final Man of the Match honors for his influential performance against Nashville SC.
Cremaschi has one goal, four assists and two match-winning penalties in the past eight matches for Inter Miami.
The duo will join USMNT after Inter Miami’s match against LAFC on Sunday.
MLS Matchday 29 (Aug. 30) games
- Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Charlotte FC vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Inter Miami vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET
- New York City FC vs. CF Montréal, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Austin FC vs. Seattle Sounders, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Chicago Fire FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Houston Dynamo FC vs. Columbus Crew, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m. ET
- St. Louis City SC vs. FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET
- San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET
All games available on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
What is the probability of Inter Miami making the MLS playoffs?
Inter Miami dug a massive hole for itself in the pre-Messi era, putting itself dead last in the Eastern Conference before defeating the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Inter Miami now owns 21 points through 23 games played. Most of the teams ahead of Miami in the standings, however, have played at least two more games, so having games in hand helps the cause.
The top nine finishers in each conference make the playoffs. During the 2022 season, the ninth-place finisher in the Eastern Conference had 42 points; in 2021 the ninth-place team had 47 points.
Just to be safe, let’s say Inter Miami needs to get to that 47-point benchmark to have any chance to make the postseason. That would mean averaging 2.4 points a game, winning at least seven of the final 11 games. Any loss would be devastating.
MLS playoff picture
These would be the early MLS playoff matchups, if the season ended before Wednesday night’s games …
- CF Montréal (No. 8 seed) vs. Chicago Fire FC (9)
Round 1 (best-of-three series)
- FC Cincinnati (1) vs. CF Montréal (8)-Chicago Fire FC (9) winner
- Philadelphia Union (2) vs. Nashville SC (7)
- New England Revolution (3) vs. Atlanta United (6)
- Orlando City SC (4) vs. Columbus Crew (5)
- FC Dallas (No. 8 seed) vs. Austin FC (9)
Round 1 (best-of-three series)
- St. Louis City SC (1) vs. FC Dallas (8)-Austin FC (9) winner
- Los Angeles FC (2) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (7)
- Seattle Sounders (3) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (6)
- Real Salt Lake (4) vs. Houston Dynamo FC (5)
FC Cincinnati can clinch a playoff berth Wednesday night with:
- Scenario 1: Win at Atlanta United
- Scenario 2: Draw at Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls loss/draw, Chicago Fire FC loss/draw, Charlotte FC loss/draw
- Scenario 3: New York Red Bulls loss/draw, Chicago Fire FC loss, Charlotte FC loss/draw
- Scenario 4: New York Red Bulls loss/draw, Chicago Fire FC draw, Charlotte FC loss
What is Inter Miami’s remaining 2023 schedule?
- Aug. 30: vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 3: at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 9: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 16: at Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 20: vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 24: at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
- Sept. 26: vs. Houston Dynamo FC (U.S. Open Cup final), time TBD
- Sept. 30: vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Oct. 4: at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Oct. 7: vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Oct. 18: vs. Charlotte FC, 8 p.m. ET
- Oct. 21: at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m. ET
With the exception of the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 26 (which will be available to stream on the CBS Sports Golazo Network), all other Inter Miami games are available to watch via the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Construction on new Inter Miami stadium has begun
On Monday, Inter Miami announced that construction has started on the club’s long-awaited new stadium. The stadium is expected to open in 2025. Messi’s contract with the team runs through December 2025.
The 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium will sit on a 58-acre public park and entertainment district at Miami Freedom Park.
Inter Miami has played at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since the team’s inaugural season of 2020.
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