Inter Miami CF’s Road to the Leagues Cup 2023 Final

inter final

After a forgettable first part of the Major League Soccer regular season, Inter Miami CF bolstered its roster with the elite players Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Since then, the superstar trio has propelled the team through Leagues Cup 2023 and into the final for a shot at the clubs first-ever trophy in its three short years of existence.

Group stage

Inter Miami CF was drawn into Group South 3 along with LIGA MX side Cruz Azul and fellow Major League Soccer side Atlanta United.

The club’s tournament debut against La Máquina was much anticipated since it was also the MLS debut of Messi. Robert Taylor notched the club;s first goal near the end of the first half. Cruz Azul’s Uriel Antuna equalized in the 65th minute and for the rest of the night it appeared the match was destined to end in a draw. But the first Messi moment of Leagues Cup 2023 occurred when he curled a free kick game winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time to clinch a 2-1 win.

In its next group stage match, Miami cruised to victory 4-0 over Atlanta United, demonstrating its newfound strength and power. Messi notched his first brace of the tournament with goals in the 8th and 22nd minute. Taylor put the match away with a brace of his own (44' and 53').

Elimination Rounds

After finishing at the top of Group South 3, Inter Mimi took on in-state rival Orlando City SC in the round of 32. Messi showed up again with his second consecutive brace (7' and 72') and Josef Martínez scored his first goal in the competition, converting a penalty in the 51st minute en route to a 3-1 win.

The round of 16 matchup with FC Dallas, in its first tournament match on the road, was Inter Miami’s biggest challenge. The club came close to elimination in a thrilling 4-4 draw but eventually advanced on penalties.

Six minutes into the match, Messi scored and it appeared Miami was on its way to another blowout win. But FC Dallas came roaring back from behind to make it 3-1 with goals from Facundo Quignon (37'), Bernard Kamungo (45') and Alan Velasco (63').

Benjamin Cremaschi pulled Inter Miami back to within one with a 65th minute goal that came moments after he subbed into the match, but a Robert Taylor own goal gave FC Dallas a 4-2 lead in the 68th minute. But Marco Farfan own goal in the 80th minute gave Miami some life and just when it seemed like FC Dallas would escape with a win, Messi scored another beautiful free kick goal in the 85th minute to make it 4-4 after regulation.

In the penalty shootout, only FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal missed his shot and Miami moved on with a 5-3 advantage.

In the quarterfinals, Miami had little trouble with Charlotte FC. It was another resounding 4-0 win with goals from Martínez (12'), Taylor (32'), an Adilson Malanda own goal (78') and Messi (86').

Inter Miami also had little trouble on the road in the semifinals at Subaru Park. An early third-minute goal from Martinez derailed the Philadelphia Union’s plans and the club’s poor play continued throughout the first held. Messi scored a long-distance banger in the 20th minute and Jordi Alba made it 3-0 just before the end of the half. Philly’s Alejandro Bedoya notched a 73rd-minute goal but Miami’s David Ruiz sealed the 4-1 win with his 84th-minute tally.

The Final

Inter Miami CF will face a major challenge when they face Nashville SC this Saturday, August 19 at GEODIS Park for the Leagues Cup 2023 final. The Boys in Gold have already eliminated pre-tournament favorites FC Cincinnati, Club América, and CF Moneterrey.