Harrison, NJ – They’ve come to see Lionel Messi. And despite only playing 30 minutes, the Argentine soccer superstar gave everyone the show they wanted.
Inter Miami He was already on his way to victory after the midfielder Diego Gomez He scored in the 37th minute to give Inter a 1-0 lead, but that was little compared to Messi’s entry. He came off the bench in the 60th minute amid a cacophony of cheers at Red Bulls Arena. Every time Messi touches the ball, every one of the 26,276 fans – a stadium record – seems to cheer with excitement.
But when Messi scored a wicked goal in the 89th minute to secure Miami’s victory, the crowd erupted in jubilant glory.
This was the build the fans wanted. Why did they pay the high price? They adorned themselves with Messi’s equipment throughout his football career. They wanted a glimpse of grandeur – even if only for a few minutes.
“I just came for him,” Johnny Chiquiza, 29, of Dover, NJ, told Yahoo Sports before the game. “For me, it’s a dream to be here to watch Messi play. For me, that’s it. When he won the World Cup, we cried.”
Miami pink and Argentinian blue F.C.B Red shirts blanketed the walk to the arena with a few PSG jerseys scattered all over the place. But it’s all for Messi. The only way anyone can know this isn’t an Inter Miami home game is by looking at the side of the court.
When news broke that Messi would not start, chants of “We want Messi” echoed throughout the stadium until he began warming up on the bench after half-time. Fans Yahoo Sports spoke to were “disappointed” when they heard the news, but understood why Miami would want to rest Messi after a slew of matches over the past month and the US Open Cup final in late September.
But that sadness dissipated instantly when Messi arrived. The result does not matter. The discount was not important. Location does not matter. This was all about Messi.
And while Messi stole the spotlight, Miami’s victory was also important. It was Inter’s ninth straight win with Messi and Miami’s first regular season win in 15 weeks and a huge boost to a team scraping off the bottom of the MLS standings. Their chances of making it to the play-offs are still slim, but not impossible with nine games remaining, and arguably the world’s greatest footballer is on their side.