FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Can Lionel Messi and Inter Miami keep Messi Mania going in Leagues Cup play?
Messi and Inter Miami are off to a 2-0 halftime lead against Charlotte FC at DRV PNK Stadium in the quarterfinal Leagues Cup game on Friday night. All Inter Miami games are available to watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Messi has yet to score tonight, but he has scored seven goals in his first four games with Inter Miami — all victories for his side.
Inter Miami looks to win its fifth consecutive game since Messi joined the Miami MLS team that is co-owned by soccer legend David Beckham.
The winner of the Inter Miami-Charlotte FC game will face the Philadelphia Union-Querétaro winner in the semifinals on Aug. 16.
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Halftime: Inter Miami 2, Charlotte 0
While Messi had a quiet first half by his standards, he and his Inter Miami teammates are a second half away from advancing to the Leagues Cup semifinal.
Josef Martinez and Robert Taylor have scored for Miami during the first half to take a 2-0 lead into the locker rooms.
Messi had one shot on goal, a short kick with his left foot defended with both hands by the goalie, at the 30th minute.
If Inter Miami advances, they’ll face the winner of the Philadelphia Union-Querétaro game, being played tonight. Philadelphia has a 1-0 lead early.
The League Cup semifinals are on Aug. 16.
Messi remains scoreless, but Inter Miami has taken a 2-0 lead on Charlotte.
Robert Taylor scored in the 32nd minute to increase its lead.
Taylor’s right foot found the left corner of the net, becoming his scored his fourth goal in Leagues Cup play.
Taylor received the assist from DeAndre Yedlin.
Well, Messi’s scoring streak in the first 10 minutes ended.
But two minutes later, Inter Miami was on the board.
Josef Martinez scored in the 12th minute on a penalty kick, giving Inter Miami a 1-0 lead, capitalizing on a penalty by Charlotte.
All Inter Miami games are available to watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
But fans in search of a free game to view: Inter Miami’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal game on Aug. 23 will be available to stream on the CBS Sports Golazo Network.
If you’re watching the game tonight, keep an eye out on Messi early.
Messi has scored in the first 10 minutes of the last three games. And he’s scored even faster with each passing game.
- He scored in the eighth minute in his first start.
- He scored in the seventh minute in the next start.
- And he scored in the sixth minute in his last start.
Can Messi score inside five minutes in this one?
Messi is already one of Inter Miami’s all-time leading scorers four games into his stint with the MLS franchise.
With seven goals, Messi is tied for fourth in franchise history with three other players: teammate Josef Martinez, and former Inter Miami players Lewis Morgan and Rodolfo Pizarro.
Messi’s next goal will tie him with teammate Robert Taylor (8) for third in Inter Miami history.
Then, the climb really begins.
Leonardo Campana is second all-time with 16 goals, while Gonzalo Higuain is the all-time leader with 29 goals.
Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba – the former FC Barcelona standouts – will start their second game together with Inter Miami tonight.
Here are the starting lineups for both teams:
Lionel Messi highlights with Inter Miami
Messi has three braces, or two goals scored in each of his last three games. And his first goal in each game has come before the 10-minute mark. So, Inter Miami has gotten off to fast starts in games Messi has started.
Messi’s last game out, his first road game in Dallas, he scored on a free kick in the 85th minute to complete Inter Miami’s comeback in a 4-4 tie that went to penalty kicks. Inter Miami edged Dallas 5-3 in PKs.
Messi also hit the game-winning goal in his Inter Miami debut in extra time.
Messi has played the entire game in each of his last two games for Inter Miami. He came off the bench in his debut, and lasted until 78’ in his second game.
If Inter Miami wins tonight, it will face the Philadelphia Union-Querétaro winner in the semifinals on Aug. 16.
If Inter Miami is eliminated from the Leagues Cup, the team’s next scheduled game is Aug. 23 against FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup.
The quarterfinals are being held Friday. The semifinals will be on Aug. 16. The final and third-place game will be held on Aug. 19.
The other quarterfinal matchups are:
Philadelphia Unions vs. Querétaro F.C., 8 p.m. ET
Nashville SC vs. Minnesota United, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles FC vs. C.F. Monterrey, 10:30 p.m.
What is Inter Miami’s 2023 MLS schedule?
- Aug. 20: vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Aug. 23: at FC Cincinnati (U.S. Open Cup), 7 p.m. ET
- Aug. 26: at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Aug. 30: vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 3: at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 9: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 16: at Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 20: vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 24: at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Sept. 30: vs. New York City Fc, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 4: at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Oct. 7: vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Oct. 21: at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m. ET