Messi’s Magic Lifts Inter Miami: Dramatic Win Sends Team to US Open Cup Final

By Xorkpe Sosu 5 Min Read

Lionel Messi’s awe-inspiring display propelled Inter Miami to a stunning recovery from a 2-0 deficit against Cincinnati in a captivating US Open Cup semi-final. The contest reached a thrilling climax with a 3-3 deadlock after the completion of extra time on Ohio turf.

Just a short span after clinching the Leagues Cup through a penalty shootout victory over Nashville, Inter Miami, bolstered by Messi’s recent incorporation, now teeters on the edge of securing their second championship.

The US Open Cup, a venerable knockout tournament ingrained in the tapestry of American soccer history since 1914, bore witness to Miami’s spirited resurgence.

Their path to the grand finale, scheduled for September 27th, unfolds against the backdrop of a showdown with the Houston Dynamo. The latter punched their ticket to the final by overcoming Real Salt Lake with a 3-1 scoreline in the extended period.

In a turn of fate, Cincinnati, once perched atop Major League Soccer’s standings, would have been clear frontrunners against a Miami side that faced considerable struggles merely a month prior. However, the narrative has undergone a seismic transformation.

The Floridian squad has transformed since Messi’s incorporation, turning around their winless streak of 11 league games.

Inter Miami, reinvigorated by the summer acquisitions of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba—champions and stars in their own right—are now pursuing their second championship in just over a month.

Their revival was highlighted by Messi’s pivotal role in engineering a comeback from a 2-0 deficit during the second half, ultimately pushing the match into overtime.

Trailing by two goals with just 22 minutes left on the clock, Inter found themselves in a precarious situation.

However, it was the Argentine maestro Lionel Messi who orchestrated a stunning turnaround. With precision, he delivered two flawless assists to striker Leonardo Campana, igniting a thrilling comeback that pushed the game into extra time.

Cincinnati had initially taken the lead in the 18th minute through Messi’s compatriot Luciano Acosta, and the home side’s advantage was doubled by an exceptional strike from American forward Brandon Vazquez in the 53rd minute.

In the 68th minute, Messi’s expertly executed free-kick from the left found Campana’s head, infusing energy into what had been a lackluster performance from
Gerardo Martino’s team.

Cincinnati believed they had secured a 3-1 lead, but Yuga Kubo’s effort was disallowed due to a handball. In the seventh minute of stoppage time, Messi, positioned deep on the left, swung a perfectly placed cross to the back post, where Campana once again found the net, forcing the match into extra time.

Ultimately, Inter Miami managed to conjure just enough magic. Goalkeeper Drake Callender correctly anticipated Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund’s penalty kick in the decisive fifth round of the shootout, securing a 5-4 victory for Miami after the enthralling 3-3 draw.

With the chance to guide his team to their first-ever appearance in an Open Cup Final, the emerging young talent Benjamin Cremaschi calmly sealed the deal for Miami, much to the delight of the capacity crowd of 25,513 at TQL Stadium.

In another fixture, Houston Dynamo summoned their own brand of magic, led by Panamanian star Adalberto Carrasquilla, in a hard-fought contest that resulted in a 3-1 triumph against Real Salt Lake.

As a result of their victory, Houston clinched a coveted slot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, a prestigious honor reserved for the Open Cup champion. Since Miami had already secured a Champions Cup berth by winning the Leagues Cup, this prize was awarded to Houston.

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, U.S. Soccer’s premier National Championship, is set to unfold on September 27th at Miami’s DRV PNK STADIUM. The event promises to be an epic showcase of soccer prowess, featuring the soaring Inter Miami CF and the tenacious Houston Dynamo.

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