Although Inter Miami is unbeaten since Lionel Messi’s arrival, the Herons were held scoreless by Nashville in Wednesday’s Major League Soccer match.
Inter Miami has never gone without scoring in a game in which Messi has appeared.
Not for want of effort, as No. 10 attempted seven attempts, the last of which was a right-footed effort that Nashville goalkeeper Elliot Panicco blocked.
But Nashville refused to give an inch for the full 90 minutes and deserved to win.
Messi, as usual, drew a star-studded throng to DRV PNK Stadium.
On a recent Wednesday night in South Florida, not only did FIFA president Gianni Infantino watch Inter Miami, but also Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Indeed, Griffey showed signs of productivity. The Seattle Mariners legend was seen on the field on Wednesday night using a camera while dressed in a neon vest, suggesting he was a professional photographer.
An iconic Messi moment may have been missing, but the replay of the Leagues Cup Final, won by Miami against Nashville on penalties 11 days ago, was nevertheless tҺrilling.
The opening half for Nashville was spent trying to stymie Messi and company without starting scorer Sam Surridge and USA defender Walker Zimmerman.
When Hany Mukhtar came on for the visitors at halftime, they finally had a chance to score, but Kamal Miller made a game-changing save by poking the ball out from under the German’s feet.
Later on, Mukhtar set up winger Jacob Shaffelburg, but Callender was able to parry Shaffelburg’s shot because it was too close to the Miami goalkeeper.
The home team had a 70% to 30% advantage in possession, although they were not very dangerous offensively.
Messi missed two easy goals from close range, and while his team got into good scoring chances in the Nashville box, they couldn’t convert any of them.
While a draw against a strong Nashville side is certainly respectable, the team’s terrible play prior to Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba’s arrival makes every Major League Soccer encounter something of a must-win.
Despite the team’s Leagues Cup victory, they currently sit in 14th place out of 15 in the Eastern Conference, 10 points adrift of the final playoff slot with the same number of games remaining.
The Herons’ upcoming match at LAFC will be a challenging one.