MLS

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Inter Miami: Lionel Messi scores on his MLS debut, as his impressive scoring streak continues

Lionel Messi continued his dazzling form on the American soil once again as he scored a superb goal on his MLS debut, as the normal league routine in America resumed its journey, after Leagues Cup and US Open Cup games. Combining with Messi and Diego Gomez, Inter Miami rode on their brilliance to see off New York Red Bulls by 2-0, marking their MLS return in style.

MLS resumes its second half

After a month of Leagues Cup and US Open Cup semifinals, America’s most anticipated MLS makes its return for the second half of the season, where lots of things are at stake, at the present scenario. Lionel Messi and brigade would look to rejuvenate their spirit after coming on the back of a brilliant Leagues Cup silverware, where Tata Martino led side defeated a sturdy Nashville by 10-9 on penalties, thus winning their first tournament. On the contrary, Miami’s MLS story sports a sorry look as they stood on the last position before the Leagues Cup came by, and with Messi on board, they would look to uplift their standards.

Lionel Messi has been on a scoring spree over the last 8 games he played in Miami colors. After debuting against Cruz Azul with a typical Messi-esque free-kick on the dying minutes, he did not have to look back, as he scored 10 goals in consecutive 7 games, fetching him the highest goal scorer award in the coveted Leagues Cup. He led David Beckham owned side to their first silverware, thus lifting up the sportsmanship of Miami fans. However, MLS was bracing for his return, as he was yet to make an official debut in the League. Last night, he was fielded on the 60th minute, before rounding off Miami’s victory with a classy goal on the 89th minute, thus leapfrogging Toronto on the 14th position.

Messi starts on the bench, Martino fields potent attacking set-up

With Lionel Messi on a continuous play over last eight games, people would have anticipated Messi resting the game against NY Red Bulls. And as they have thought, people in New York had to wait for Messi’s official debut as Martino had rested the stalwart on their MLS return. Started with a unconventional 5-4-1 formation with Leonardo Campana, the hero of US Open Cup being the sole striker, followed by youngsters Facundo Farias, Diego Gomez, Dixon Arroyo and David Ruiz. The defensive line-up was strengthened with the fielding of 5 players, including seasoned veteran and ex-Barcelona legend Jordi Alba on the left, accompanied by Noah Allen, Kamal Miller, Tomas Aviles and Finnish star Robert Taylor, who had shouldered the responsibilities of being a left winger in the Leagues Cup fixtures. In Messi’s absence, it was Leagues Cup hero Drake Callender, the custodian, who was handed the captain’s armband.

On the other hand, NY Red Bulls wanted to keep their line-up crisp by fielding a potent line-up with 4-1-4-1 formation, having Brazilian Elias Manoel on the frontal line-up.

Young gun Diego Gomez opens the scoring

With a match where jumping up the league table was at stake, both teams were evenly matched, disagreeing on leaving an inch for the other. Red Bulls, who were stationed on the 11th position and were hoping of securing an entry in the top 10, had a possession of 51% compared to Miami’s 49%, thus the match poised for a climactic finish.

Diego Gomez, the 20-year old Paraguayan, dubbed as one of the brightest prospects for the Herons, was the first to make inroads in the game when he scored on the 37th minute, from a lovely assist from another youngster Noah Allen. It all started with Jordi Alba applying a attacking mentality in set-piece, which was thwarted off by Red Bull keeper Coronel, falling on the feet of Robert Taylor. The Finnish passed the ball to Allen, whose cheeky pass falls right on the money for Gomez, who buries the shot at the bottom right corner, thus giving Miami their much anticipated lead of 1-0.

Lionel Messi makes his debut, greeted with deafening excitement from the audience

Courtesy Gomez’s goal, Miami went in to the half-time with a 1-0 lead, with the match poised for a sublime second half. With a hefty three points on the line, former Barca boss Gerardo “Tata” Martino, chalked out the perfect masterstroke, by introducing his former apprentices at Barcelona, Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets, on the 60th minute, to provide an impetus to Miami’s attack. Messi’s introduction was greeted with a deafening roar at the Red Bull Arena, and he stepped on to the field with a standing ovation, as supporters from both teams alike brandished their cellphones to capture a glimpse of the superstar.

Messi scores, ‘again’

With a strong attacking line-up for Miami after Messi’s introduction, the Herons looked unstoppable as they seemed to have been rejuvenated with the inclusion of the superstar on the field. Several opportunities came for him, with Messi immediately proving his class on the field, as he looked up to continue his wonderous streak of scoring goals.

Finally, a chance for Messi came on the way, and he would not be the man to squander it, especially on his dream run. It is speculated that Messi is ‘enjoying life’ at Miami, and his usual routine comprises of waking up and scoring goals with his new club. Thus, he would have loved to continue that streak as he scored on his official MLS debut, On the 89th minute, Miami fans got a glimpse of the impact the legendary troika of Busquets-Alba-Messi can make, as a long pass from Busi falls before Alba who was clever enough to pass the ball to Messi, with a sublime touch. Messi, realizing he being surrounded by NY defense, passes the ball to compatriot, youngster Benjamin Cremaschi. As the opponents tried to swarm Cremaschi, he assists the ball to Messi, who, was standing in front of an open goal, scored a sitter, thus sealing the deal for Miami, showing his class once again to the world.

Aging like fine wine, they say!

Messi and brigade has leapfrogged Toronto to reach the 14th place. With still a long way to traverse, Miami would look to Messi for uplifting their game and gradually, reaching the playoffs, which is still a long shot for the Herons.

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