Inter Miami fell to a heavy 5-2 defeat at the hands of Atlanta United over the weekend, as David Beckham’s MLS team experienced life without two of their star men, and Atlanta’s social media admin didn’t miss the opportunity to bait football’s GOAT.
Lionel Messi, Inter Miami’s captain and talisman, has enjoyed a strong start to life in Miami since joining from French champions Paris Saint-Germain in July.
From his on-pitch performances that have encouraged British royalty to turn up to watch him play, to consoling DJ Khaled’s son before Miami’s games, Messi has won the hearts of American fans in a relatively short period of time.
However, the 36-year-old forward was unfortunately absent from the starting line-up for Miami’s MLS fixture away to Atlanta, leaving his teammates as they suffered a heavy defeat at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, losing 5-2.
Miami’s coach Gerardo Martino confirmed that Messi had not picked up any injuries with Argentina, as was previously reported, but had been granted an extended rest period following a busy start to life in Miami that has seen him play 12 games in 48 days.
“We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span,” Martino commented before the game. “But the idea is to not get Leo or any other player injured.”
The plan backfired, and Miami, who was also without Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba, suffered a huge league defeat reminiscent of the pre-Messi era, and Atlanta were quick to take the opportunity to ruffle some feathers.
The Argentina captain has notched 11 goals in as many games for David Beckham’s MLS club and has seemingly transformed the fortunes of his new side in a relatively short amount of time.
The Florida-based side were freefalling before Messi arrived; pinned to the bottom of the MLS ladder, the Herons suffered nine consecutive defeats in the league. Without a manager or star man to get them out of trouble, Messi couldn’t have arrived sooner.
But since the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner joined, Miami have gone unbeaten in 11, lifted silverware for the first time in their short history and had seemingly turned their fortunes around. This weekend’s sobering loss will have reminded the Miami faithful of what they have waiting in the wings.