Inter Miami suffer U.S. Cup Final defeat and post humiliating stat without Lionel Messi

The U.S. Open Cup was one step too far for Inter Miami without Lionel Messi, as they struggled while their star player watched on from the sidelines. It was by far the worst display from Miami since Messi joined the club as a free agent, and they missed a great opportunity to add to their trophy cabinet.

Miami lost 2-1 to Houston Dynamo in their second final of the season, as the legacy MLS team outclassed David Beckham’s franchise.

The scoreline may show a close game, but over the 96 minutes it was anything but as Miami grabbed a consolation goal late on against the run of play. Dynamo outshot Inter Miami by 18 shots to one in the first half, which equals the second-largest shot difference in the first half of any match between two MLS teams in all competitions in 2023.

The sellout crowd at DRV PNK Stadium was devastated when the teams were announced, as neither Messi nor Jordi Alba had made the matchday squad. Messi has been struggling since picking up an injury while on international duty with Argentina and has only played 36 minutes of soccer since September 8.

Messi’s position was filled by Facundo Farias, a fellow Argentine who sits next to the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in the locker room. However, his poor pass led to Dynamo’s first goal as Griffin Dorsey powered his shot past Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender before Amine Bassi doubled their lead from the penalty spot.

Josef Martinez scored off the bench in added time to pull one back, but it was too late and the Dynamo won the cup. For the second goal Miami conceded it was another one of Messi’s replacements that made a mistake, as DeAndre Yedlin reclaimed the captaincy with the 36-year-old out of action.

Yedlin brought down Nelson Iturre in the penalty box with a wild tackle, and it wrapped up an embarrassing first half. Messi looked stressed on the sidelines, as all of his hard work to get them there went to waste.

But Messi wasn’t the only one, as fans paid an average of $304 (£250) for a ticket to Wednesday’s final. The most expensive seats were listed at $1,300 (£1,071) before kick-off, but it was a gamble with Messi’s status in the balance.

Like with all Miami games, since Messi arrived in Fort Lauderdale, there were plenty of celebrities in attendance to watch the hottest football team in the United States. However, they didn’t get any intel that Messi would not be ready to play the game.

NBA star James Harden was in attendance as the minority owner of the Dynamo, so his trip was very much justified. But footballing icon Zinedine Zidane was a guest of the Beckhams, as he was seen coming out of the owner’s suite.

Since Messi has been missing for Miami they may have only lost one game before Wednesday, a 5-2 defeat to Atlanta United. But they’ve only been comfortable in one game, and the cup final was a reminder of how fragile they remain without Messi.