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Friday April 19, 2024

Lionel Messi, Inter Miami face early Florida MLS derby

Lionel Messi's Inter Miami begin season with 2-0 victory at home against Real Salt Lake

By Web Desk
March 01, 2024
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the winning goal. — AFP/File
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the winning goal. — AFP/File

Major League Soccer's Lionel Messi and Inter Miami will play their early-season derby against Florida rivals Orlando City on Saturday.

After Miami began the season with a 2-0 victory at home against Real Salt Lake, Messi's stoppage time equaliser in Sunday's 1-1 draw at the Los Angeles Galaxy made sure that the team remained unbeaten, according to AFP.

Miami's veteran-heavy team struggled for long portions of the game in Los Angeles, thus despite the outcome, they fell short of expectations.

Due to an ankle ailment, Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets has also not been at his best, and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez appears well short of match fitness.

"We started well, with the result we wanted. On Sunday we wanted to win, but the tie was just. It was not our best game," Busquets said.

"At the start of a season, it's always difficult. We still have to get adjusted, await injured players to recuperate, hopefully we can play well this Saturday at home in the Clasico."

The 37-year-old Uruguayan striker, who previously played for Barcelona and Liverpool, needs some time to acclimatise to life at the club after signing from Brazilian side Gremio, where he scored 17 goals in the previous campaign, according to Busquets.

"It's a new league. We all need a period of adaptation," the Spaniard said. "Not just him, but all of us as a team. We are changing, fixing things, some things left to improve."

More than merely the anticipation of a local derby, Orlando provide the toughest opponent Gerardo 'Tata' Martino's team has faced this season.

Orlando is one of the favourites to win the trophy this year despite losing to eventual MLS Cup winners Columbus in the conference semifinals as they placed second in the Eastern Conference the previous year.

The addition of some talent and experience to his team during the off-season by Colombian coach Oscar Pareja suggests that he is taking a "win now" tack to the season.