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RECAP: Red Bulls Scratched by Messi, Inter Miami C.F. 2-0

Photo Credit: Matt Kremau

By Garry Redman

On sultry a Saturday evening, the New York Red Bulls had learned a very hard lesson. This is Lionel Messi's world and unfortunately for them and everyone else, are living in it.

The international superstar known as Lionel Messi arrived with his legion of adoring fans looking to continue their mark in the league after winning the inaugural League Cup and taking one more step in winning another trophy in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against F.C. Cincinnati in extra time. 

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls are working to remain in the hunt, keeping their slim playoff chances alive with nine matches remaining in the regular season. In what has been billed as a late-summer blockbuster by the league, two teams in opposite directions clash in front of a sold-out Red Bull Arena.

The 26,276 fans in attendance marked the record for a New York Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena. Many of them paid hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the secondary market and started chanting, "We want Messi" just ten minutes in the start of the match in hopes of seeing their hero in person.

Coach Troy Lesense stressed the importance of starting the match on their terms right from kickoff, however, much to the head-shaking dismay to both the coach, and the home supporters, the team looked very sluggish, right from kickoff, which generated both dread and concern.

The Red Bulls have often exhibited offensive issues throughout the season, poorly taking advantage of such opportunities. And, an example of it was given in 19th minute when Frankie Amaya found Luquinhas in front of the net, but his shot was blocked, denying him the goal.

The visitors nearly responded in the 30th minute when Kamal Miller, off a set piece found Facundo Farias who tried his chance from a difficult angle, but his shot drifted to his right.

The hosts had what was clearly the best chance to get on the scoreboard first when Dru Yearwood got a great pass over to Omir Fernandez in the 35th minute, but his shot from the center of the box missed to the right, causing his coach and teammates to drop their heads in frustration.

They would pay for that missed opportunity just two minutes later when Facundo Farías won a free kick on a foul that was called on Andrés Reyes. From there, Noah Allen delivered a great cross over to Diego Gomez who scored his first ever goal with the club, and with that, the hosts had grabbed the lead to the delight of the fans.

Red Bulls thought they had a lifeline in the 42nd minute as David Ruiz looked like was called for a handball in the box, but under further review, the official waived the penalty. The hosts had some work to do as the whistle blew, ending the first half.

During the Media Availability back on Thursday, head coach Troy Lesense talked about the team working on set pieces to add to the offense, but on this occasion, in the 50th minute, after Miami defender Kamal Miller conceded a corner, Andrés Reyes header was blocked after John Tolkin delivered a nice cross. Adding to the team's frustration.

The fans that were chanting for Lionel Messi earlier were rewarded when he entered the match in the 60th minute, and was greeted with a rousing ovation as he replaced Leonardo Campana. In the 87th minute, he won a free kick in the Red Bulls' attacking half after he was fouled by New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, and was issued a yellow card.

At first, the wall that the Red Bulls set up did it's job and blocked Messi's shot. However, the ball was kept in play by Benjamin Cremaschi, and thanks to some clueless defending by several members of the New York defense, the man know throughout the world as the "Magisterial One" got his goal in the 89th minute giving his fans what they came for, and sealing the win for his team.

Ever since Messi joined Inter Miami C.F., he has scored 11 goals in all competitions. And thanks to him, they have a chance however slim, to make the playoff after spending most of the season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table. 

For the Red Bulls, the only respite they have is that they don't have much time to dwell on this painful and embarrassing loss. They will have to head up to Foxborough to try to do what they did only once this season - win on the road to keep their now very slim playoff chances alive. 

Starting XI:

New York Red Bulls: Carlos Coronel, Sean Nealis, John Tolkin, Dru Yearwood (Peter Stroud 46’), Cameron Harper (Wiki Carmona 76’), Omir Fernandez (Jorge Cabezas Hurtado 76’), Frankie Amaya (Cory Burke 66’), Daniel Edelman, Luquinhas, Elias Manoel (Tom Barlow 46’)

Inter Miami C.F.: Drake Callender, Jordi Alba, Noah Allen, Kamal Miller, Tomas Aviles, Robert Taylor (Deandre Yedlin 60’), Diego Gomez (Robbie Robinson 84’), Dixon Arroyo, David Ruiz (Sergio Busquets 60’), Facundo Farias (Benjamin Cremaschi 72’), Leonardo Campana (Lionel Messi 60’)

Scoring Summary:
37' - Inter Miami C.F. - Diego Gomez, assisted by Noah Allen
89' - Inter Miami C.F. - Lionel Messi, assisted by Benjamin Cremaschi

Disciplinary Summary:
10' - New York Red Bulls - Cameron Harper - Yellow Card
20' - Inter Miami C.F. - Tomas Aviles - Yellow Card
88' - New York Red Bulls - Carlos Coronel - Yellow Card

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