After losing at home to Dynamo Houston, Internacional Miami failed to win the Open Cup and the second championship in the team's history. From winning the North American League Cup unbeaten in seven games to being beaten at home by Houston, Messi's absence has once again revealed the harsh reality!
Magical 48 days
On 22 July, Messi made his Miami Internacional debut in the first round of the Group Cup against the Blue Cross. Messi, who came off the bench, scored the winning goal from a free kick to open the curtain on the first title in the team's history.
In the Carabao Cup, Messi performed perfectly, scoring 10 goals and providing 1 assist in 7 games, participating in 11 goals, and almost single-handedly helping Internacional Miami win the championship.
After winning the first title in the team's history, Messi played in the semifinals of the Open Cup on August 23, providing two assists against Cincinnati. On August 27, Messi made his MLA debut against the New York Red Bulls, coming off the bench and scoring his first MLS goal.
Since then, Messi's fitness and condition have declined. Against Nashville, Messi failed to score for the first time in Miami. Afterwards, away to Los Angeles FC, Messi provided assists twice. Back in the national team, Messi scored the winning goal against Ecuador.
In these 48 days, Messi played 12 consecutive games, scored 12 goals and provided 5 assists, helping Miami International win the first championship in the history of the team and helping the Argentine national team win the first World Qualifier victory. However, Messi was exhausted at this time.
"We are not robots"
Messi was quickly substituted after scoring a free-kick against Ecuador, the first time in nine years that he was replaced early in the national team. The reason is simple, the recurrence of the old injury has made it impossible for him to persevere.
Messi is 36 years old after all, playing 12 games in just 48 days, and the hot weather and long journeys have had a huge impact on Messi. In these 12 games, Messi has only served as a substitute twice, was replaced early twice, and received few opportunities to rest.
In fact, not only was Messi dragged down by the schedule, Alba was also absent due to injury, and Sergio Busquets also missed the game against Orlando due to injury. Busquets pointed out, "We understand that everyone wants to see Messi play, but we are not robots! ”
Muscle discomfort left Messi out against Bolivia, Kansas City and Atlanta. In the September 21 game against Toronto, Messi and Alba returned, but both were replaced in the first half due to injury, and Martino paid the price for his trust.
What kind of injury Messi suffered, the media has mixed opinions, some media believe that he suffered a back injury, which affected his running. "Ole" believes that Messi is not injured, but muscle discomfort, but because the right leg is injured and feels uncomfortable, whether it is Messi or Scaloni, Martino, they have taken an extremely cautious attitude.
However, after all, the final is different from previous games, Houston coach Olson believes that this is just a "smoke bomb" released by Martino, "Messi will definitely play in the game." ”
The home game was beaten violently
However, Martino did not set off smoke bombs this time and Messi did not even make the match list, which set the stage for the Miami Internacional home defeat.
With Messi and Alba absent due to injury, Miami International's results declined rapidly. Before the Open Cup final, Internacional Miami had only 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat in three league matches, with the only victory against Toronto, who finished bottom of the league.
Against Atlanta and Orlando, Internacional Miami conceded 6 goals. This is enough to show that if the offensive line led by Messi cannot be relied on to suppress the opponent, then the holes in the Miami international defense will be exposed.
Facing Houston, which finished fifth in the Western Conference, the Miami International's defense collapsed again. In the first half, Houston had 17 shots and five on target, while Miami had just one, again from long range before the end of the first half.
Despite making several world-class saves, Callender conceded two goals in a row, both of which were errors by his own players. First, a mistake in the return pass was broken by the opponent and counterattacked, and then a penalty was sent by a tackle in the Yedrin's penalty area, and the opponent jumped in one fell swoop. It wasn't until stoppage time that Martinez recovered a point for Internacional Miami.
The loss to Houston in the Open Cup final and the fact that they have won only one of their last four games once again proved the importance of Messi to the team. A 12-game unbeaten run, as well as a victory over Kansas City in Messi's absence, even gave Martino the illusion.
Facing the stronger Houston, Martino adopted a strong offensive tactic, using a 433 formation, and the forward line used a combination of Taylor, Campana and Farias. Instead, in the Open Cup semifinals, Martino won the tournament with a more conservative 532 formation.
When Messi played, Miami Internacional was unbeaten in 11 games and won the first championship in team history, and when Messi was absent, Miami Internacional failed to win the championship, and only won 1 of the last 4 games, which is enough to show that without Messi, this team is still a weak team in the MLS.