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Lionel Messi, Inter Miami held to scoreless draw by Nashville SC Best of 2023

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami had another first during their historical summer together.

Instead, this one wasn’t as exciting despite a back-and-forth affair on the pitch on Wednesday night.

Messi was held scoreless for the second time as Inter Miami finished in a 0-0 draw against Nashville SC at DRV PNK Stadium in a rematch of their Leagues Cup final from Aug. 19.

“What we have to do is move on. This can happen,” coach Tata Martino said after Inter Miami failed to win its first game of the Messi era.

“It is true that we were a bit unaccustomed to this. The titles, the final, with a league game won the other day in New York, but we must move forward.“

Messi had several opportunities to score on free kicks, as he has done while scoring 11 goals in his previous nine games with the MLS club.

But he was unable to recreate the Messi Mania magic that has made Inter Miami so entertaining since his arrival and first game in July.

While Inter Miami has yet to lose a match, Inter Miami and Nashville settled for one point each in the MLS Eastern Conference playoff race after this match. But three points would’ve been preferred.

When does Messi, Inter Miami play next?

Inter Miami’s next game is against reigning league champion LAFC in Los Angeles on Sunday night. LAFC did not have a game Wednesday night and will be well-rested.

How does Inter Miami stand in MLS playoff race?

Inter Miami likely will have to average more than 2 points per game to make the MLS playoffs, so the tie doesn’t really help the playoff hopes (now at 4 points after 2 games).

Thanks to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday night, Inter Miami did gain one point on the ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference.

Miami sits 10 points behind Chicago, which has lost three straight as MLS returns to regular-season play after the completion of the Leagues Cup.

The top nine finishers in each conference qualify for the MLS playoffs. Miami is in a frantic fight to the finish to make the postseason field after digging itself into a massive hole in the pre-Messi era.

How did Messi, Inter Miami fair against Nashville?

While Messi and Inter Miami beat Nashville 1-1 (10-9 in PKs) on Aug. 19, this match was much different.

Before the match, Inter Miami celebrated the Leagues Cup trophy it won on the pitch – which coach Tata Martino noted was unique.

While Messi and Sergio Busquets got some rest and came off the bench in their 2-0 win against New York Red Bulls last Saturday, Martino felt fatigue still played a factor.

“It seemed we were still with an accumulation of fatigue,” Martino said. “We did not have the freshness and the possibilities that we have had in almost all the other games, which today I think is the first time that we have not.”

Messi did not score in Inter Miami’s win over FC Cincinnati, which ended 3-3 (5-4 in PKs), but he did have two assists to force extra time.

How challenging could reaching MLS playoffs be for Inter Miami?

While the Leagues Cup title was gratifying, competing in the MLS playoffs is the next goal.

And some players might be on the move for national team duties, including Messi.

Martino has said Messi could miss three games, while seven other Inter Miami players were called up by their respective countries.

Martino still hopes his Inter Miami players can step up to the challenge in their potential absences.

“I still see it as something to celebrate the fact so many players are called up,” Martino said.

Recapping the final minutes in regulation: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Messi entered the box and his shot was ultimately missed in the final minute of extra time.  

Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar was aggressive in the final minutes of extra time, but to no avail. A corner kick in the final minute was sent the other way.

Messi attempted a shot in the middle of the field but it was blocked about three minutes into extra time.

Inter Miami’s DeAndre Yedlin was evaluated for a handball by VAR. But referees ruled against the initial ruling as we entered the 90th minute. It did appear a kick by Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg hit Yedlin before going out of bounds.

David Ruiz, after a bad foul a few minutes earlier, missed a shot on goal in the 87th minute.

Mukhtar’s free kick misses in 85’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar was fouled by Inter Miami youngster David Ruiz to set up a free kick just minutes after a miss by Messi.

But we’re still scoreless in this one.

Mukhtar’s kick was deflected by Inter Miami’s wall and play continues.

Messi misses free kick in 82’: Inter Miami 1, Nashville 0

Messi was taken down by Nashville’s Jack Maher in the 80th minute to set up a second free kick opportunity for him in the second half.

And he was unable to convert again.

Messi’s kick was defended by the Nashville wall and shot into the air after the deflection.

Offsides takes away Mukhtar goal: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar was ruled offsides after his shot in 69th minute.

Inter Miami avoided the deficit in a back-and-forth set of minutes from 65th minute that saw two other misses and a shot by Messi blocked.

Inter Miami’s Facundo Farías missed an attempt in 66th minute, while Nashville’s Jacob Shaffelburg missed a left boot in 67th minute.

Messi had another shot blocked one minute later.

Messi miss in 60’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Messi was fouled in the 59th minute to set up a free kick.

And Messi was unable to do what he does best.

Messi’s free kicks have had a knack of finding the back of the net during his Inter Miami career, but his left boot was met by the Nashville goalkeeper in the 60th minute.

A few minutes earlier, Inter Miami defender Kamal Miller chased down reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar to prevent a shot in the middle of the net in the 56th minute.

Miller celebrated with a fist in the air to get an ovation from the crowd.

Halftime: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Two yellow cards and another miss for Inter Miami in the final minutes before halftime.

Messi lobbed a beautiful pass with his left foot into the box for Robert Taylor, but Taylor’s left shot missed too wide to the left just before halftime in the 44th minute.

The pass was stellar. The finish was underwhelming. But the finish before halftime was entertaining. But both teams are playing each other tightly and physically during this rematch of their Leagues Cup game from 11 days ago.

Inter Miami’s Diego Gomez was given a yellow card following a foul at the middle of the field in extra time before the half.

Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets also received a yellow card for making contact with referee immediately after the whistle was blown. Busquets was not overly physical, and his contact appeared to be accidental. It appeared he immediately apologized, while the referee loudly told him to not touch him.

Taylor misses in 34’: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Robert Taylor misses a strike in the 34th minute after a great look.

Of course, the shot was set up with a pass from Messi to Taylor in the middle of the field.

Inter Miami fans in attendance were ready to erupt after the team’s second shot of the game.

Messi foul met with boos: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Messi was called for a foul in the 25th minute as Nashville defender Lukas MacNaughton challenged an attack in the box.

Inter Miami fans in DRV PNK Stadium rained down with boos as possession changed.

Messi, two minutes later, delivered a stellar pass to Jordi Alba in the box, but it was defended well by Nashville.

20′: Inter Miami 0, Nashville 0

Three free kicks for Leo Messi in the first 17 minutes of this game, but we’re still scoreless so far.

Nashville’s Jack Maher missed right footed shot from the center of the box is high and wide to the right in the 8th minute.

Inter Miami has been more aggressive on its side of the field in the opening minutes with three set pieces, but unable to convert.

Messi’s fourth free kick seemed to be taken by the wind, as Idalia (now downgraded to a tropical storm) has affected parts of South Florida with rain and wind for much of Tuesday.

Ken Griffey Jr. taking photos of Messi at Inter Miami game

Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. (with a photographer vest and equipment!) is on the pitch and taking photos in tonight’s game.

Griffey said hello to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. before the game.

Inter Miami’s Leagues Cup trophy celebration

Before the game, Inter Miami held a ceremony to celebrate their Leagues Cup title over Nashville from Aug. 19.

Messi and Deandre Yedlin held the trophy together and raised it to the Inter Miami fan section.

Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas addressed the crowd at DRV PNK Stadium.

“You, our fans, are responsible for making our first trophy happen,” Mas said.

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