Another match, another victory for Inter Miami who move into the last 16 of Leagues Cup following a brace from Lionel Messi to push the team to a 3-1 victory on Orlando City SC on Wednesday night. It will set up Messi's first away match on Sunday, Aug. 6 at FC Dallas for a chance to make it into the last eight of the competition. Jordi Alba and Diego Gomez made their Inter Miami debuts in the match highlighting that this isn't the same team that sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when this summer tournament kicked off.
Messi opened the scoring within 10 minutes of the match before Orlando would draw back to bring it level via Cesar Araujo. It entered the half level as Araujo did a good job of getting under Messi's skin but it would cost Orlando in the second half. Josef Martinez was brought down and scored his penalty in the 51st minute before Messi added insurance for Miami's third goal of the match in the 72nd minute. Messi had the chance to take the penalty to get closer to a hat trick but gave it to his Venezuelan teammate who grabbed his first goal for the club in the competition.
This performance brings Messi to five goals and one assist in only three appearances while also getting his first full 90 under his belt.
Miami are becoming a team that no one wants to face as they're fully in contention for winning this tournament due to their quick revamp with the World Cup winner leading the charge. With Tata Martino getting even more players under his belt, rotation will be important but his starting XI is going to create some tough decisions. Facundo Faris wasn't available for this match but he'll provide competition to Robert Taylor on the left despite the latter's three goals and two assists since Messi has joined the club.
Recruitment in Fort Lauderdale has been excellent as this team is more than Messi, Sergio Busquets, Alba and others as the club's vision is clear and taking shape. With young players to offset each of their aging stars, Inter Miami are set up to succeed in the long haul. It helps that teams can't stop Messi but if the defense is able to keep their form, allowing two goals in their last three matches, that could be the improvement that shows that they are contenders for silverware.