Lionel Messi continues his goal-scoring spree, and Inter Miami keeps adding victories to their record. Messi unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards out, navigating through three Philadelphia defenders in the 20th minute. This stunning goal sent ripples of joy through the hearts of fans who had invested a record amount in soccer tickets in the Philly region. The result? Inter Miami triumphed over the Union with a resounding 4-1 victory in the Leagues Cup semi-final on a Tuesday night.
It’s undeniable: Major League Soccer has now truly become Messi’s domain. As the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, he’s been in sensational form, delivering his ninth goal in just six matches with his new team. This time, he showcased his brilliance in front of a spirited crowd of 20,000 fans, with ticket prices reaching an unprecedented $1,000 on the secondary market. And the atmosphere was electric.
The jersey exchange tradition was kept alive as Messi swapped shirts with fellow Argentinian and Union forward, Julián Carranza. Skipping the postgame interview, Messi opted to convey his message through a post on Instagram, addressing his staggering 483 million followers. He wrote, “We worked our way to the finals and we made it!!! We’re still on the last step.”
The impact of Messi’s presence extended far beyond the confines of the stadium. The buzz was undeniable, with even Union season-ticket holders temporarily trading their allegiance to don Messi gear for the night. Devoted fans lined up to get their hands on Messi jerseys, even if authenticity wasn’t guaranteed, and others indulged in Messi-themed treats at a food truck.
Although the Union sought victory, they walked away with more than just a game well-played. The global attention they garnered on this night surpassed any they had previously experienced. The crowd erupted when Messi was introduced, and their enthusiasm was boundless when he expertly scored past the diving Union goalkeeper, Andre Blake. Messi’s celebration, with arms extended and a triumphant fist pump, added to the spectacle.
But the match was not solely about Messi’s moments. Jordi Alba and Josef Martinez also contributed to Inter Miami’s victory, with goals in the first half, while David Ruiz secured another goal in the second half. Inter Miami is now set to face off against Nashville in the Leagues Cup championship game.
As the game unfolded, Alejandro Bedoya found the back of the net for Philadelphia in the second half, contributing to the scoreline. Union coach Jim Curtain recognized Inter Miami’s potential for further growth, noting the team’s strong ownership support and predicting their ascent to greatness.
Amid the excitement, key figures from Philadelphia’s sports scene made their presence felt. Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins kicked off the team’s entrance with a resounding drumbeat. Joel Embiid, NBA MVP and a former soccer player in his youth, displayed his interest in the match and encouraged support for Messi on social media.
The anticipation for this game was palpable, with the match selling out in under 10 minutes. Ticket prices skyrocketed on the secondary market, with some seats going for over a thousand dollars. The “Messi Mania” was evident worldwide, particularly outside the stadium, where fans rallied around the football superstar.
For the Union, this match marked a significant challenge. Despite their strong track record under Coach Curtain, their path to an MLS championship appears more complex with Messi in the mix. Union’s owner Jay Sugarman and the fans recognized the transformative impact Messi has on the league’s dynamics, acknowledging his role as the catalyst for heightened excitement and engagement.
In essence, Lionel Messi’s influence reverberates beyond his exceptional skills on the field. He’s not just a player; he’s a game-changer, setting the stage for a new era of soccer in the United States.