Lionel Messi assists in Inter Miami's 2-0 season-opening win vs. Real Salt Lake

Messi had an assist along with a second assist in the gutsy win on Wednesday.

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It was the Lionel Messi show to open the 2024 MLS season.

Messi steered Inter Miami to a 2-0 win at home over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, putting a stamp on the league already.

The 36-year-old Argentine was simply brilliant throughout the night and was unfortunate not to net one himself. He set up the opener to Robert Taylor in the 39th minute, who was fortunate goalie Zac MacMath couldn't handle it.

The first half was all Miami, though the team couldn't score a second before halftime. Messi, Taylor and league debutant Luis Suarez all made an impact in the first half and dominated in the final third. Julian Gressel was also heavily involved in a midfield role.

But the momentum quickly changed after the interval, as Miami's legs noticeably looked heavy after a hectic preseason while Salt Lake appeared sharper.

Salt Lake had multiple chances to secure the equalizer, including a header from a corner in the 72nd minute that goalie Drake Callender parried over the crossbar.

Chicho Arango got more involved as well, but Salt Lake couldn't capitalize despite being camped inside Miami's defensive third for a good portion of the second half.

Then came Messi's moment of individual brilliance in the 83rd minute that sealed the win. On the counter, Messi showed off his superb dribbling and hold-up play to advance the ball into Salt Lake's defensive third. Messi slipped the ball to Suarez, who then gave a one-touch pass to 20-year-old Diego Gomez for a solid finish.

Suarez noticeably limped to finish the game and was substituted in the 90th minute, but it marked a solid MLS debut for the 37-year-old Uruguayan.

Miami finished the game logging 1.19 expected goals, via FotMob. For comparison's sake, Salt Lake managed 0.77 but couldn't find the finishing touch.

Salt Lake recorded 17 total shots, though only two hit the target. Miami had 15 total shots and eight on target, along with two big chances missed. Messi was on the end of those.

Miami will next be on the road on Sunday to face LA Galaxy, while Salt Lake will be on the road again as it meets St. Louis City on Saturday.

Contact Us