Inter Miami & Colorado Rapids Draw In Messi’s Spectacular Return


Chase Stadium Lionel Messi’s return to the pitch wasn’t triumphant but it was spectacular as Inter Miami played to a 2-2 draw in their first-ever showdown versus the Colorado Rapids. Rafael Navarro and Cole Basset scored for Colorado while Lionel Messi and Leo Afonso did the same for the Herons.

Starting XI

Inter Miami CF Coach Tata Martino put out an alternate lineup that relied on players who normally would come off the bench to face the Colorado Rapids.  The attacking three featured Leo Afonso, Leonardo Campana, and Shanyder Borgelin with Lawson Sunderland, Tomas Aviles, and Julian Gressel in the ever-important midfield. Franco Negri, Noah Allen, Ryan Sailor, and David Ruiz formed the defensive line.

Match Action

Colorado took advantage of the mishmash Miami starting group early and controlled the tempo of the match. After approximately twenty minutes of play, Inter Miami began to find its groove, and the action evened out on both sides of the pitch. Ryan Sailor and Noah Allen were doing a commendable job on defense but a mental lapse by Sailor in the 45th minute led to a penalty called in Colorado’s favor.

In an attempt to close out Kevin Cabral, Ryan made a clumsy slide tackle and clipped the Rapids player for the foul inside the box.  Rafael Navarro lined up and slammed his shot past Drake Callender for the 0-1 Colorado advantage.

The second half began with an eruption of cheers when Lionel Messi was subbed in for Lawson Sunderland. Messi made his return after missing nearly a month with a hamstring injury.

Messi’s impact on the match was immediate as the Argentine launched a left-footed rocket into the Colorado goal after a pinpoint cross by Franco Negri in the 58th minute of play.

The Herons continued to push forward and took the lead in the match with a low right-footed boom by Leo Afonso from a David Ruiz cross in the 60th minute. It was Afonso’s first career goal with Inter Miami CF, the young Brazilian has been making the most of his opportunities with the team.

Cole Basset would be a hero for Colorado when he crossed a shot past Drake Callender in the 88th minute to give the Rapids the game-tying goal. A Diego Gomez short pass back to Jordi Alba was intercepted and turned into a quick counterattack by Colorado. The Herons were caught out of position and the Rapids made them pay, it would be the final 2-2 scoreline.

Post Game

Tata Martino was asked if it was disappointing for Inter Miami to draw at home against Colorado in a match where they played well enough to win,

It’s a shame to give up two points but I think we keep commiting mistakes that make us leave two points behind. In the 87th minute with a 2-1 lead to be caught in a counter attack is unusual and its proper of  not having an understanding of the game, of the moment.

Inter Miami made two silly mistakes that caused the team to concede two goals and lose two points. Ryan Sailor made an ill-timed tackle in the box that led to a penalty kick score by Rafael Navarro and Diego Gomez gave a sloppy pass that was intercepted and turned into a Rapids counterattack score.

It’s on the players to cut down on mistakes that lead to goals being conceded, not the coach. Martino was visibly upset that his team was caught too far up the pitch when Colorado scored their second goal. He wanted his players to stay compact and in a low block to prevent that specific scenario from happening.

Final Thoughts

The King of football made a spectacular return Saturday night at Chase Stadium. The moment he was announced to enter the pitch, the stadium vibe felt electric. Messi did not disappoint, his usual brilliance on the pitch mesmerized everyone in attendance. Lionel Messi immediately uplifted his Inter Miami squad with a curling beauty of a goal less than fifteen minutes after he was subbed in. His dribbling and ability to make precise passes to break defenses down is impressive. Even at the age of thirty-six, Lionel Messi is an awe-inspiring footballer.

Wednesday night Inter Miami will have Lionel Messi available in their CONCACAF Quarterfinals match against Monterey in Mexico. The odds are stacked against Miami but if anyone can lead this team to a victory it is Messi.

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