Lionel Messi, Inter Miami soar past Philadelphia Union into Leagues Cup Final | MLSSoccer.com
Miami, as has become their forte during this stunning Leagues Cup run, opened the scoring early – this time via Josef Martínez‘s 3rd-minute strike that beat Union goalkeeper Andre Blake after latching onto Sergii Kryvtsov‘s ball in behind.
Messi then padded his Golden Boot lead, reaching nine goals in his first six Miami matches with a 20th-minute golazo. The Argentine superstar unleashed a 30-yard blast past Blake, continuing his incredible MLS journey since a July 15 deal began Miami’s high-end summer roster transformation.
The Union’s lackluster first half carried into stoppage time, when Jordi Alba‘s lung-busting run was rewarded by Robert Taylor‘s through ball. The legendary FC Barcelona left back, who also joined Miami this summer, clipped his shot past Blake for a 3-0 lead.
Philadelphia thought they had a lifeline in the 73rd minute when veteran midfielder Alejandro Bedoya marked his return from injury by pulling one back via a corner-kick scramble. But those hopes were extinguished in the 84th minute after Miami homegrown midfielder David Ruíz capped the 4-1 result – ensuring the visitors have scored four goals in four of six Leagues Cup matches this summer.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Inter Miami are into the 2024 CCC and on the doorstep of silverware, a staggering development compared to their pre-Messi struggles. But that’s the power of the GOAT, who has transformed the Herons into a goalscoring force (21 goals in Leagues Cup). It’s more heartbreak for Philadelphia, who again fall just short in a trophy push – and lost where they’re historically dominant. But they could secure 2024 CCL soccer if they win the Third-Place Game vs. Monterrey, also held on Saturday.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Rinse and repeat for Messi, whose ninth Leagues Cup goal stood as the game-winner.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Martínez answered some of his critics with a strong first half, tallying 1g/1a to help set the tone.