For the first time with Lionel Messi, Inter Miami held scoreless in a draw


Inter Miami still earned a point in the standings as it looks to make a late-season playoff push. Miami entered the game 11 points shy of the MLS playoff line and needing to move up from 14th to ninth place to make the playoffs with 11 regular-season matches left.
Messi failed to convert two free kick attempts in his first Major League Soccer match at home, and it was the first time during his Inter Miami tenure that he was kept off the score sheet.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Inter Miami failed to score for the first time since Lionel Messi joined the team, playing a scoreless draw with Nashville on Wednesday night.
Miami had won its previous nine matches as Messi’s addition gave the team an immediate boost. He has scored 11 goals, including three multi-goal performances.
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said despite its success, the team is still coming together after undergoing so many changes over the past two months.
Miami hired Martino in June, weeks after firing Phil Neville. Miami had the worst record of the 15 Eastern Conference teams at the time, but with Messi won all seven of its Leagues Cup matches and its US Open Cup semifinal match. Since Messi’s arrival, the club also signed his former Barcelona teammates, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Messi started the game Wednesday along with Busquets after the two entered Miami’s previous match against the New York Red Bulls in the 60th minute.
Miami had no shots on goal Wednesday through the first 60 minutes as the team struggled to break through Nashville’s defense.
Messi attempted a free kick in the 61st minute after drawing a foul on Nashville’s Dax McCarty, but the shot to the bottom-left corner was stopped by Elliot Panicco.
Still, Inter Miami fans took out their phones to record the free kick, just in case the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner delivered another goal similar to the one in his debut — when he scored in the 94th minute to give Miami a win over Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup opener.
Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar had a goal erased by an offside call in the 69th minute.
Messi got another chance in the 83rd minute, but the shot bounced off the wall of defenders.
“They sat back with nine, 10 guys at a time,” said Miami’s Kamal Miller, who made several plays throughout the match. “Pretty frustrating, but we have to get used to it. That’s probably what most teams are going to do against us now.”


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