In front of 71,635 spectators at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, Inter Miami was humiliated 5-2 by Atlanta United while missing Lionel Messi, and it was the team’s first defeat since his arrival in July.

Messi absance for inter miami

A worn-out Lionel Messi remained home on Saturday, upsetting many of the 71,635 supporters who flocked to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in anticipation of seeing the Argentine star. However, the home crowd departed jubilant as Atlanta United snapped Inter Miami’s 12-game winning run with a decisive 5-2 triumph. The team’s prospects of making the playoffs will suffer as a result of Miami’s first defeat since the signing of Messi. With seven games left in the regular season, Miami falls to 8-15-4 in league play and is still six points below the playoff line in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.


At the end of the first half, Tristan Muyumba, Brooks Lennon, and a Kamal Miller own goal placed the home team in lead. Atlanta (12-8-9, 45 points) then improved to 9-3-3 at home with goals from Georgios Giakoumakis and Tyler Wolff. After the victory, the team’s position in the MLS Eastern Conference is still sixth.

For Miami (8-15-4, 28 points), whose 12-game winning run in all competitions was snapped, Leonardo Campana scored twice.

Inter miami

Messi and Spanish defender Jordi Alba were both absent from the game, according to Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who claimed that their absences were caused by “muscular fatigue” rather than the FieldTurf surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Gonzalo Pineda, the head coach of Atlanta United, claimed to have found out about Messi’s choice via social media.

I checked the Twitter account to know he wasn’t coming, Pineda continued.

 I pushed the players to stay focused in the face of the attention given to Messi’s position.

I was really honest with the players when I said that there are a lot of things in the air right now, and it seems like Inter Miami is the center of attention. We must change that to be about ourselves.

Early in the second half, Inter Miami was down 3-1, but Campana’s second goal on a penalty kick brought them within one.

Inter Miami

In the 76th and 89th minutes, respectively, Giakoumakis and Wolff added insurance goals for Atlanta, restoring the two-goal advantage. Giakoumakis matched for the league lead with his 14th goal.

Campana’s ninth goal of the year gave Inter Miami the lead in the 25th minute. Atlanta overcame the deficit by scoring three goals in eight minutes to go into halftime with a 3-1 advantage.

After Dixon Arroyo’s shot struck the post and rebounded, Campana used deft footwork to go by Atlanta defender Miles Robinson and beat Brad Guzan.

In the 36th minute, Muyumba equalized for Atlanta by sending a header past Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender. When the play was reviewed, it wasn’t clear from the video if the ball had passed the goal line.

Atlanta scored on their own goal to take the lead. The shot from Xande Silva was deflected past Callender by Inter Miami defender Kamal Miller.

After receiving a cross from Caleb Wiley, Lennon scored Atlanta’s third goal of the game, beating Callender with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box.

Inter miami

Martino and the striker Josef Martinez did not have the happy homecoming they had planned for. Both of them have fond recollections of their time spent in Atlanta, particularly the 2018 MLS Cup title run. When Martinez came off the bench to play in the 80th minute, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation and a huge banner depicting him with a crown, since he was known as “El Rey.”


Miami plays Toronto at home on Wednesday and Orlando away on September 24 before facing the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final three days later.


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