Inter Miami suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the U.S Open Cup final at DRV PNK Stadium, losing 2-1 to Houston Dynamo FC. The loss marked only the second defeat for Inter Miami since the acquisition of the legendary Lionel Messi, who was conspicuously absent from the final match.
Leading up to the U.S Open Cup final, the anticipation was palpable as fans and pundits alike eagerly awaited Messi’s potential appearance. Tata Martino, Inter Miami’s head coach, had hinted earlier in the week that Messi might feature in the second half of the game. However, moments before the match, Inter Miami stunned everyone by announcing that Messi would neither dress nor play in the final.
Adding to Inter Miami’s woes, Jordi Alba, another key player nursing an injury, was also sidelined for the crucial clash. Houston Dynamo seized the opportunity and took the lead 25 minutes into the night, sending shockwaves through the DRV PNK Stadium.
The situation worsened for Inter Miami at the 32-minute mark when Amine Bassi extended Houston’s lead to 2-0. Despite their efforts, Inter Miami struggled all night to gain control of the ball on the pitch. The breakthrough finally came in the 90th minute when Josef Martinez managed to pull one back for Inter Miami, making it 2-1. Unfortunately, time was not on their side, and Houston Dynamo FC secured the U.S Open Cup, a trophy that seemed destined for Inter Miami’s grasp.
The match served as a stark contrast to Inter Miami’s recent performances when Messi was on the field. In games where the Argentine superstar played, the team boasted eight wins and four draws, showcasing their potential for greatness. However, when Messi was unable to participate, as was the case in the U.S Open Cup final, Inter Miami has now suffered two losses and one draw.
The question that looms large for Inter Miami and their fans is Messi’s health for the remainder of the season. Inter Miami currently sits just five points behind the 9th place team in the Eastern Conference with only five games left to play. The uncertainty surrounding Messi’s fitness has left fans and management alike pondering whether to push for a playoff spot and contend for the coveted MLS Cup or exercise caution moving forward.
The road to the playoffs begins this Saturday at DRV PNK Stadium as the Herons host New York City FC at 7:30 PM. Inter Miami will need to regroup quickly and find their winning form if they hope to keep their playoff dreams alive.
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