WATCH: Messi Rescues Inter Miami in LA with a Barcelona Classic

Fans arrived hours before kickoff on the first night of Lionel Messi’s 2024 roadshow. Thousands waited outside Dignity Health Sports Park to enter the LA Galaxy’s longstanding home, possibly earlier than ever before. They’d come to see the GOAT perform, and they waited for 91 minutes.

Then, like clockwork, they beheld the brilliance for which they had paid.

Messi had been choked, smothered, and neutralized for the majority of Sunday night. But in second-half stoppage time, with his Inter Miami club losing 1-0, he reached into his bottomless bag of tricks for an age-old classic.

He enlisted Jordi Alba’s help to create Catalan magic, which allowed them to easily penetrate the Galaxy’s defenses.

It was a pattern they’d certainly rehearsed hundreds of times over their ten years together at FC Barcelona—Messi to Alba, Alba back to Messi, back to Alba, back to Messi, and past a helpless goalie, into the goal.


Messi scored the first goal of the young Major League Soccer season. It also earned Miami a 1-1 draw, which the Herons did not deserve.

For the majority of the 90-plus minutes under the lights in Carson, California, they were hammered by the Galaxy, who appeared to be a young squad reborn.

For the majority of those 90-plus minutes, until a soft 88th-minute red card, the hosts exposed Miami’s numerous flaws. The Galaxy continued to rush forward into space, leaving an eerily open void. They struck several posts. They squandered excellent opportunities, including a penalty.

They generated enough to score at least three, possibly four. They remained wasteful until, in the 75th minute, their hundredth counterattack got a rebound, which Marky Delgado squared to Dejan Joveljic, who tapped in.


By then, they had presented their MLS peers with a template for defeating Miami. They’d reduced the field while Miami had the ball. They sat in a mid-block position, but their defenders refused to drop too far. They challenged Luis Suarez and others to overtake them from behind, but Suarez, at 37 years old and plainly hobbled, was unable.

They shadowed Sergio Busquets, the only player capable of breaking through their defense from deep.Riqui Puig pursued him, preventing Miami from using its midfield pivot.

When the Galaxy won the ball, they exploded into wide fields of green grass. They frequently found themselves in a 4-v-4 or 3-v-3 transition. They charged towards Busquets on the open field. They won an early penalty after a Messi ball was mishandled, resulting in a 5-v-4.


A similar traffic pattern existed throughout the first half and for sections of the second. The final expected goal total was Galaxy 3.8, Miami 0.9.

LA’s indecision saved Inter Miami. However, other, better MLS opponents will not be so gracious. Miami has challenges. It primarily defends 9-on-11. Its fullbacks and midfielders frequently make aggressive runs, leaving elderly legs exposed.

But no matter how many flaws accumulate and how many deficiencies make Miami vulnerable, Inter will be in every game because it has the man the entire world wants to watch.

Messi lurked as the Galaxy sought and failed to extend their lead.

Messi’s opportunity seemed to get closer as the Galaxy wasted chance after chance.

When he slid the ball into Jordi Alba’s path with perfect weight about 8 p.m., 27,000 people knew exactly what would happen next.

Leave a Reply