Lionel Messi and Inter Miami FC look to continue its storybook run in the Leagues Cup when it faces the host Philadelphia Union in a semifinal on Tuesday night in Chester.
Messi, the reigning World Cup Golden Ball winner for Argentina, made his debut for Miami as the Leagues Cup began after completing his signing with the Herons last month.
He’s been the most dynamic player in the competition contested among all 47 clubs of MLS and Liga MX, scoring eight goals and assisting two more while helping Miami post a 4-0-1 record in the tournament.
That’s a dramatic reversal of form for Miami, which is still in last in the MLS Eastern Conference regular season standings and had gone winless in 11 league games prior to Messi’s arrival.
“We’ve kind of been through a lot this year,” Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender said. “So for us to play well in Leagues Cup, for our first time in this tournament, has been good just to kind of build that morale, build that mentality, get that feeling of winning back.”
Miami cruised to a 4-0 win over Charlotte in a home quarterfinal on Friday night. But the Union on paper should provide the toughest test Messi’s Miami has faced and will mark only the second time Messi has hit the road in this tournament.
Philadelphia has won the last two Eastern Conference regular season titles and is third in those standings again this season after a slow start.
The Union are likely to have attacking midfielder Daniel Gazdag back in the fold after he missed Friday’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Mexico side Queretaro with a mild knee sprain. However, regular-season scoring leader Julian Carranza could miss out after suffering a mild hamstring strain in the late stages of that win.
Gazdag has four goals this tournament — including three from the penalty spot. Eight of his nine league goals have also come from penalties, and he also leads the Union with nine regular-season assists.
- FULL TIMEAnd that is it. Messi and Inter Miami are into the Leagues Cup final. They will either face Monterrey or Nashville on August 19th
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:3490’Three added minutes
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:3187’ Substitution for PhillyOUT: Gazdag IN: Torres
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:3187’ Substitutions for Inter MiamiOUT: Arroyo IN: McVey; OUT: Alba IN: Allen
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:2784’ Ruiz makes it 4-1Now it’s done and dusted. Yedlin with a superb run on the right flank before sending it inside the box towards Ruiz who slotted it in to seal the deal!
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:2380’Into the final 10 minutes and Philadelphia is still trailing by 2 goals. It needs a miracle here to pull off a draw, let alone a win
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:1874’ Substitution for Inter MiamiOUT: Cremaschi IN: Ruiz
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:1673’ Philly pulls one backBEDOYA PULLS ONE BACK! Corner awarded for Philadelphia, a well directed ball comes into the box, takes a deflection off a Philly player and went towards Bedoya who found the back of the net with ease
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:1471’ Substitutions for PhiladelphiaOUT: Donovan IN: Sullivan; OUT: Bueno IN: Bedoya
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:1369’What a turn of events!! After Philly’s failed attempt at goal, Campana makes a solo run inside the box and shoots but is saved by Blake. Messi gets it on the rebound, shoots but it goes just wide!
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:1267’Great ball into the box from Wagner. Glesnes jumps to get his foot on the ball but fails to keep it on target
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0966’Messi and Yedlin put up a protest after Gomez is fouled by Bueno, who is already on a yellow. But the referee thinks otherwise. Gomez is taken off the pitch to regain stamina and is back in after a short break
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0662’ Yellow cardYedlin is booked for time wasting after delaying a throw in
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0561’ Substitution for Inter MiamiIN: Campana OUT: Martinez; IN: Gomez OUT: Taylor
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0460’Sensational save from Callender. He’s been terrific throughout. Donovan tried to head it inside but a full length dive from the keeper denies a goal for Philly
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0158’Wagner serves it in. Harriel gets the ball inside the box but the referee blows the whistle. Reason? handball
- AUGUST 16, 2023 06:0056’Donovan gets the ball with no one but Callender between him and the goal. He successfully takes the ball past the keeper but fails to keep the shot on target as a chance goes begging
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:5955’Another similar attack from Miami. Messi to Cremaschi on the right. This time he takes matters in his own hands, takes it inside the box and tries to chip it over Blake but the ball goes wide
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:5852’Messi with a swift set of moves initiates a counter for Miami. He directs the ball towards Martinez inside the box, but he decides to leave it for Cremaschi on the right flank. The latter then tries to send in a cross but fails due to too much activity inside the box
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:5550’Philadelphia looks much more threatening this time around. Gazdag gets the ball on the left and he enters the final third. Sends in a dangerous cross but there’s no one to recieve it. Would’ve been a cakewalk had someone been inside the box
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:5246’ Substitutions for PhiladelphiaIN: McGlynn OUT: Flach; IN: Uhre OUT: Lowe
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:50Second half underwayWagner gets the ball rolling as Philly chases the unimaginable
- AUGUST 16, 2023 05:35Half time