August 20 – It has taken Lionel Messi just seven matches to win his first piece of silverware in the US with Inter Miami. A remarkable unbeaten Leagues Cup run that climaxed with the win over Nashville after 11 rounds of penalties. The game was tied at 1-1 at full time.
It has been a stunning month for Inter Milan and Messi, even by his standards, as he collected his 44th trophy for club and country.
Debuting in the Leagues Cup – the new MLS vs LaLiga competition that sees both leagues break for a month for clubs to play each other – Messi has scored in every game he has played and with his strike in the finals has now notched 10 goals in seven games.
Inter Miami scored 22 goals en route to the final win, the same number of goals the club, currently sitting at the bottom of the MLS, has scored in their 18 league matches this season.
Messi opened the scoring in the first half with a superb left footed strike from outside the box that curled into the top left hand corners. North American defences are proving slow to learn that you can’t give him any space.
Nashville drew level in the second half when Fafa Picault scored with a header from a corner kick in the 57th minute that deflected off Inter Miami’s Benjamin Cremaschi and Drake Callender before going in.
With both sides missing opportunities to win the game in regulation time, the match went straight to penalties.
Messi, of course, stepped up first to slot his for Inter Miami, with former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba both scoring their penalties for Inter Miami as the shootout progressed into sudden death.
Inter Miami keeper Drake Callender stepped up to take the 11th penalty and hammered it in before getting back between the posts to Nashville keeper Elliot Panicco’s penalty.
With the win Nashville gain automatic qualification to the last 16 of the next Concacaf Champions Cup (previously called the Concacaf Champions League).
The Messi roadshow now rolls on to his debut in the MLS. Inter Miami are currently bottom of the eastern conference, 14 points behind the 9th place position that would see them qualify for the play-offs. It looks like an impossible task to make the play-offs, but this is Messi and anything could happen.
Miami are next in action against Cincinnati on Thursday before they travel to New York to play the Red Bulls on Sunday. Messi makes his home MLS debut at home in Fort Lauderdale the following Thursday in a rerun of the Leagues Cup final against Nashville.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com