Seven games, one trophy. Nine games, two trophies? Lionel Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami has caused a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the club and after sealing the Leagues Cup trophy, they will set their eyes on US Open Cup.
Messi still hasn’t played an MLS game and he could already be a double-winner before doing so. He has already become the most decorated footballer in history and now has a chance to add to his lead.
Miami’s US Open Cup run goes back to the time before Messi. The club is now in the semifinals of the tournament after coming through some tough games when Messi wasn’t at the club.
Leagues Cup finalists Nashville SC were beaten in the Round-Of-16 in the toughest game of their run till now.
Now facing Cincinnati on August 23 in the semifinals, all eyes will be on Messi and Co as the silverware flows in Miami.
Inter Miami vs Cincinnati preview
It’s Messi Mania in Miami, and MLS by extension. Nobody really expected the Argentine to fail at Inter Miami, but the magnitude and rapidity of his success has taken many by surprise.
It’s now forgotten that the team he joined was on a quick path to irrelevancy. They were bottom of the MLS table, were the underdogs of the Leagues Cup, and the season as a whole was pretty much written off.
Enter Messi and now not one, but two trophies are within reach, while a late surge to the playoffs in the league can’t be ruled out.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, have been trending in the opposite direction. They were beaten on penalties by Nashville in the Leagues Cup round-of-32 and their MLS campaign resumed with a 0-3 thrashing by Columbus.
They will also have fewer days of rest than Miami, having played a game on August 20.
Inter Miami vs Cincinnati predicted lineup
Inter Miami team news
Inter Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino has selected the same lineup for the last three games and rightly so. There’s no need to fix what’s not broken and right now, everything is purring along perfectly in Miami.
Knowing what team Miami will put out is one matter, having the ability to counter that is another entirely, one that hasn’t been managed by any opposition so far.
Predicted Inter Miami XI: Callender, Yedlin, Miller, Kryvtsov, Alba, Arroyo, Busquets, Cremaschi, Messi, Martinez, Taylor
Cincinnati team news
Cincinnati will come into this game devoid of all momentum. Early elimination from the Leagues Cup meant they didn’t have any games between August 4 and August 20.
Then, when the game on August 20 came, Columbus Crew put three past them as they looked hapless and devoid of any match fitness.
However, that game can be put down to a bad day at the office. Why? Because Cincinnati are the MLS table toppers in the Eastern Conference (Miami’s conference) by a mammoth eight points.
Before the freak result against Columbus, they had lost just two of their 23 league games.
European football fans might be familiar with former Chelsea man Matt Miazga as Colombian international Santiago Arias in Cincinnati’s ranks.
Predicted Cincinnati XI: Celentano, Gaddis, Miazga, Hagglund, Arias, Moreno, Nwobodo, Powell, Acosta, Vazquez, Boupendza
Inter Miami vs Cincinnati prediction
Momentum is a funny thing in football. Before Messi’s arrival, this game would have been a boring fixture between the table toppers vs the basement dwellers.
Nobody would have backed Miami to win against Cincinnati, a notion that is unlikely in the “AM (After Messi)” era at Inter Miami.
Still, just like the Nashville game, this won’t be easy for Messi’s men. As the league’s marquee team, Miami now have a target on their back and every team they face will bring its top game against them.
Furthermore, Cincinnati’s pride as league leader will be wounded after the Columbus thrashing. Combine that with this being a home game for them, this is set to be Miami’s biggest test in the AM era. Expect Miami’s individual quality to just about put them over the line against Cincinnati.
FootTheBall predicts Inter Miami 2-1 Cincinnati.