Thursday, November 30 2023

Lionel Messi isn’t slowing down.

Messi’s dominance in Major League Soccer continued Wednesday night at DVR PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Messi scored twice to lead Inter Miami past Orlando City SC 3-1 in their Round of 32 Leagues Cup match.

He’s now scored five goals in just three matches since joining Miami and MLS, which made him the Leagues Cup leading goalscorer. Though Miami holds the worst record in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, Messi’s impact on the club has been huge. They’ve yet to lose since he arrived, and nobody seems able to stop him. FC Dallas will get the chance next on Sunday in Texas in the Round of 16.

Messi got the night going almost instantly. After a roughly 90-minute rain delay, Messi found the back of the net in just the seventh minute of the match. He caught what was an absolute dime from Robert Taylor in the center of the box, tapped the ball once with his chest and volleyed it in to put them up 1-0.

While that goal, his fourth in Miami, was impressive, the lead didn’t last long.

Orlando’s César Araújo scored the equalizer off a deflection in the box in the 16th minute. Messi picked up his first yellow card with the club a few minutes later, too, after tackling Wilder Cartagena.

Messi missed a few shots later in the first half, and Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese expertly blocked a Messi free kick late in the period, to keep things tied up 1-1 at the break.

Miami then scored quickly in the second half after Josef Martínez was fouled inside the box. Martínez took the penalty kick and drilled it perfectly, which put Miami back in the lead.

Messi then scored again in the 71st minute, which put the game out of reach.

Messi caught a chip pass in front of the goal from Martínez, who handled another incredible pass from Taylor, and tapped in another goal.

Miami then held for the 3-1 win, which sent them into the Round of 16.

Messi has now scored five times since joining Miami less than a month ago. He scored a game-winner in stoppage time against Cruz Azul in his debut with the club in their first Leagues Cup game, and then scored twice in just 22 minutes against Atlanta United last week. He is the top goalscorer in the Leagues Cup, and is one assist away from leading that category, too.

Those two wins got Miami into the knockout round of the Leagues Cup, which set up their match on Wednesday against Orlando.

Lionel Messi scored twice on Wednesday night to lead Inter Miami past Orlando City.Lionel Messi scored twice on Wednesday night to lead Inter Miami past Orlando City.

Lionel Messi scored twice on Wednesday night to lead Inter Miami past Orlando City. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

With the win, Miami advances to take on FC Dallas, who beat Mazatlan FC 2-1 in their Round of 32 match earlier Wednesday night. Alan Velasco and Eugene Anash each scored for Dallas in the win. Orlando City reached the knockout stage after beating the Houston Dynamo on penalty kicks and then beating Santos Laguna.

Here’s how the Inter Miami-Orlando City match unfolded in real time on Wednesday night:


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