Six games, nine goals, one final. Lionel Messi continued to impress on Tuesday night in Inter Miami CF’s 4-1 win over Philadelphia Union in the League Cup semifinals at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
First-half goals from Messi, Josep Martinez and Jordi Alba gave the visitors an unassailable lead as Miami cruised into their inaugural League Cup final, winning every game since the Argentine World Cup champion joined the club in July.
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Gerardo Martino’s side face Nashville SC, who beat Liga MX club Monterrey 2-0 in Tuesday night’s semi-finals. They will play in Nashville last Saturday night.
Miami also secured a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup — the first in team history — by reaching the final.
“That team has reached the finals of an international tournament,” Martino said. “One of the goals is to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions Cup and we have to prepare to win the championship if possible. We are motivated and confident, but we are focused on doing everything well. We want to make this club. Very competitive.”
For opposing manager Jim Curtin, the Union lost last year’s MLS Cup final on penalties, exited this spring in the semifinals of the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and lost the 2021 MLS Eastern Conference final.
“It takes a complete team effort to have a chance against a team like Miami,” Curtin said after the match. “In the first 20-30 minutes, they made a lot of mistakes, they punished us and it wasn’t us in the first half, but they were very good.
“Losing and conceding four goals is tough, that part hurts. Leaving that pitch after conceding four doesn’t feel normal.”
As Miami has done throughout the League Cup, it struck early and never looked back. Martinez’s goal shortly after kickoff was his fifth in the first 15 minutes of a League Cup match.
He beat Union keeper Andre Blake with a low line drive from 31.8 meters for his ninth goal in the Leagues Cup.
The Union, who haven’t lost a game at home all season, headed into the locker room down two goals, earning Alba third for Miami. The former Barcelona star snuck in behind the defense to run down Robert Taylor’s through ball and then calmly slot past Blake to make it 3-0.
“The influence of Leo, [Sergio Busquets]Jordi has been in the group and they pass this belief on to the young players and they have this commitment to the game,” Martino said.[Busquets] He works hard to recover balls in particular, which is contagious to his teammates.
“The team has changed, today we have a more competitive roster, which creates difficulties for the coach to build the lineup. The younger players are growing a little bit. That’s good for any team.”
Chris Donovan missed a wide-open chance to get Philly on the board, then had his goal-bound header saved by Miami keeper Drake Callender early in the second half as the home side tried to claw their way back into the game.
Alejandro Bedoya managed to pull one back for the home side late in the second half, but substitute David Ruiz scored Miami’s fourth of the night to put an improbable comeback out of reach for Curtin’s side.
Since Messi’s arrival in Miami, the team has scored 21 goals in six games — four in four. Before he got there, it managed just 22 games in 22 MLS matches.
“The crowd was amazing, great atmosphere. Was there a lot of pink? Absolutely,” Curtin said. “It’s like that everywhere [Messi] is going He is universal and the best ever in our game. And he is modest. Producing over and over like he does when he doesn’t have to … he’s a winner.
“He’ll go to the final now, it hurts and we’re not going to go.”
This story used information from Reuters.