MIAMI, FL. – Inter Miami CF was guided to a 3-1 win over Orlando City SC by two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Josef Martínez, clinching a berth in the Leagues Cup Round of 16.“I think we’re doing well, above all else winning, which is a good place to start. We’re getting better at circulating the ball with each passing game, and more clinical at the top end of the pitch,” said head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino. “If we solidify the defensive end a bit – I see growth in this aspect – and we can guarantee clean sheets, we’ll have great chances for the players from midfield forward to score goals every match.” Drake Callender started in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller and Noah Allen formed the back four; Dixon Arroyo, Sergio Busquets and Benjamin Cremaschi started in midfield; Messi and Robert Taylor lined up on the wings flanking striker Martínez.
Inter Miami’s starting XI remained unchanged from the team’s 4-0 victory over Atlanta United in the final Leagues Cup group stage match. Two of the Club’s latest additions, however, appeared on the bench for the first time in the match; legendary Spanish left back Jordi Alba and young Paraguayan midfielder Diego Gómez made the matchday squad for the Round of 32 fixture. A weather delay saw kickoff pushed back nearly 90 minutes, but Inter Miami came out of the gate quickly once the match began. In the seventh minute, Busquets threaded a through ball to Cremaschi, who quickly played the ball out to Taylor on the left wing. The Finnish winger cut in, bypassed the defense and clipped a delicate pass into the box for Messi, who took a touch off his chest and volleyed a strike past the keeper for the early 1-0 lead. The assist was Taylor’s team-leading sixth of the season, and marked the third time the pair connected on a goal since Messi’s debut. Orlando struck back in the 17th minute; Callender made a low save to palm away a shot heading for the far post, but the rebound came to César Araújo and he fired his shot into the back of the net to level the score at 1-1. The remainder of the half continued at a competitive pace, with chances coming for both sides. Inter Miami controlled the heavy bulk of possession, while the front three created opportunities in the final third. On the other end, Callender made a few saves, sending the match level at one goal apiece at the break. Inter Miami then reclaimed the lead in the opening moments of the second half. Cremaschi slipped a through ball into the box for Martínez, and the striker was brought down resulting in a penalty. The Venezuelan striker then stepped up, stuttered, sent the keeper the wrong way and converted the penalty to reclaim the lead. The goal was Martínez’s team-leading seventh across all competitions in 2023. The 64th minute saw the Inter Miami debuts of Gómez and Alba, the latter a longtime teammate of Messi and Busquets at his former club FC Barcelona. Allen and Cremaschi were subbed off to make way for Alba and Gómez, respectively. In the 72nd minute, Messi played Taylor down the left wing, clipping a pass to Martínez at the far post, who took a touch off his chest. Martínez calmly picked out a pass for Messi in front of goal, and the Argentine volleyed a right-footed strike into the bottom corner for the 3-1 lead. The goal marked Messi’s fifth for the team and his second straight brace in just his third appearance, while the assist marked Martínez’s second this season. Miami continued to control the majority of possession through the remainder of the match, with a strong 63.8% possession rate at the final whistle, securing the 3-1 victory in front of a packed house at DRV PNK Stadium. Up next, Inter Miami will visit Toyota Stadium to face FC Dallas in the Leagues Cup Round of 16 this Sunday, Aug. 6. Scoring Summary: MIA – Lionel Messi (Robert Taylor) 7’, Josef Martínez (PK) 51’, Lionel Messi (Josef Martínez) 72’ ORL – César Araújo 17’ Misconduct Summary: MIA – Lionel Messi (Yellow Card 21’), Diego Gómez (Yellow Card 66’) ORL – Kyle Smith (Yellow Card 45’ + 2’), Antônio Carlos (Yellow Card 49’), Duncan McGuire (Yellow Card 50’), Mauricio Pereyra (Yellow Card 57’), Pedro Gallese (Yellow Card 90’ + 11’) Lineups / Substitutions: Inter Miami CF – GK Drake Callender; D DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller, Noah Allen (Jordi Alba 64’); M Dixon Arroyo (David Ruiz 82’), Sergio Busquets, Benjamin Cremaschi (Diego Gómez 64’)i; F Lionel Messi ©, Robert Taylor (Victor Ulloa 90’); Josef Mártinez (Leonardo Campana 81’) Unused Substitutes – GK CJ dos Santos, Cole Jensen; D Harvey Neville, Ryan Sailor; M Edison Azcona; F Shanyder Borgelin, Robbie Robinson Orlando City SC – GK Pedro Gallese; D Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Antônio Carlos, Kyle Smith (Dagur Thórhallsson 60’); M Wilder Cartagena (Felipe Martins 80’), César Araujo, Iván Angulo (Ercan Kara 80’), Mauricio Pereyra (Martín Ojeda 65’), Facundo Torres; F Duncan McGuire (Ramiro Enrique 60’) Unused Substitutes – GK Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar; D Rodrigo Schlegel, Abdi Salim; M Shakur Mohammed, Luca Petrasso; F Jack Lynn Details of the Game: Date: August 2, 2023 Time: 8 p.m. ET Stadium: DRV PNK Stadium Attendance: 20,181 Stats: Possession: MIA – 63.8% ORL – 36.2% Shots: MIA – 12 ORL – 11 Saves: MIA – 2 ORL – 2 Corners: MIA – 1 ORL – 5 Fouls: MIA – 13 ORL – 14
Inter Miami CF contributed to this recap