- Lionel Messi did not play as he dealt with muscle soreness
- Inter Miami is five points behind the final playoff spot
- Messi’s status uncertain for the next match
Orlando City holds steady in a 1-1 draw with a short-handed Inter Miami, keeping their unbeaten streak intact at home against Miami, and securing their spot in the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs. Inter Miami, despite key absences, remains in contention for a playoff berth with upcoming games in hand.
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Inter Miami Pulls Draw Without Messi, Playoff Hopes Remain Alive
In a crucial faceoff, Orlando City managed to secure a 1-1 draw against Inter Miami, with Duncan McGuire scoring the leveling goal for Orlando. This draw helped Orlando preserve an unbeaten record in home encounters against Miami, and it has sealed its position in the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs.
Orlando, having clinched a playoff spot midweek, had a balanced match, leading Miami 13-9 in total shots and 6-5 in efforts on target. McGuire’s vital goal came midway through the second half and served as a leveler to David Ruiz’s first goal for Inter Miami, ensuring parity in the match and maintaining Orlando’s undefeated home record against Miami.
Inter Miami, even with the draw, is still in the chase for the MLS Playoffs, holding the 14th spot in the Eastern Conference with 32 points, only five points adrift of New York City FC, who are in the ninth and occupy the final playoff berth. Miami has the advantage of two games in hand over both NYCFC (37 points) and 10th-place D.C. United (36 points).
However, Miami had to contend without the services of their star players — Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets. Messi was sidelined due to scar tissue complications, Alba due to muscle pain, and Busquets was rested in view of the forthcoming U.S. Open Cup final. The scarcity of these players in the lineup could have had a significant impact, but the match statistics indicated a less dominant performance by Orlando than might have been anticipated given Miami’s absences.
The game illustrated vigorous play with both teams having chances created from turnovers in midfield. Miami, taking the lead early in the second half, saw a precise attack sequence initiated by an interception in midfield by Dixon Arroyo, leading to a goal by Ruiz. Orlando’s equalizer by McGuire also originated from a turnover in midfield, culminating in a well-executed finish between the goalkeeper’s legs.
In spite of missing two prior matches, Messi, who had scar tissue problems, was expected to bring his usual flair to the match but had to sit out. His absence, along with Alba’s muscle issues and Busquets being rested, raises questions about the team’s full strength in upcoming crucial matches.
With the draw, the focus now shifts to the recovery of key players, especially for Inter Miami, who are still vying for a playoff spot. For Orlando City, maintaining the momentum will be crucial as they advance into the playoffs. Both teams will be looking to optimize their lineups and strategies as they prepare for the crucial stages ahead in the MLS season.
You should hope this will be the only match Messi misses. He has been crucial to the success of Inter Miami since his arrival, contributing a goal and two assists in four MLS matches. Currently, they are only five points behind the last playoff spot with six matches remaining in the MLS regular season. They have two matches against Charlotte and one against Chicago, two clubs right above them in the standings. With Messi back in the lineup, Miami has the best chance to overtake them and, hopefully, secure the last playoff spot from the NY Red Bulls. If Inter Miami makes the playoffs, sportsbook love their odds to capture the MLS Cup. According to BetMGM, their +600 odds are the second-best.