Inter Miami’s MLS season could be over BEFORE Lionel Messi arrives after 4-1 Philadelphia

Could Inter Miami’s MLS season be over BEFORE Lionel Messi arrives? Awful 4-1 defeat to Philadelphia Union leaves team a massive 11 points adrift of the playoffs ALREADY

The only good thing for Inter Miami in this humiliation is that Lionel Messi was over 5,000 miles away, playing an exhibition game in Argentina. If he’d sat down and watched this horror show in full, it would have ruined his 36th birthday.

This was an awful performance by Miami, losing 4-1 to Philadelphia Union as the season hit a new low for the team last in the Eastern Conference. They now face the genuine possibility of being cut adrift from the playoff places before Messi even arrives, which would be a catastrophe for all of Major League Soccer.

Miami are now 11 points behind Wayne Rooney‘s DC United, which occupies ninth and the final play-in place for the post-season playoffs. Miami has two games in hand but judging by current form, they risk being cut so far adrift that Messi will arrive too late to get them into the playoffs. 

There are four more MLS games between now and when Messi is believed to make his debut, in the Leagues Cup against Cruz Azul on July 21. But opposition in Austin, Columbus, Rooney’s DC and St Louis mean the calendar looks unforgiving. 

Defensively, Miami were terrible on Saturday night – the second goal came after the ball bounced over the head of defender Christopher McVey in the penalty box – and in attack, play repeatedly fell apart from players failing to read the play and run into space. 

Miami went into the halftime break 3-0 down and yet had 70 percent possession, which has been a recurring theme of their season – plenty of the ball, but no idea what to do with it. 

When Messi arrives, the plan should be to simply give it to him. But worryingly for Miami, there’s even less of an idea when they don’t have possession.

The first goal for the Union came in the 14th minute from a header by Jakob Glesnes. The 6-foot-2 Norwegian was being man-marked at a corner by 5-foot-11 David Ruiz, who had no chance of beating him in the air. The night would only get worse for the 19-year-old Ruiz.

The second was the horrible error by McVey and Julian Carranza, a former Inter Miami player, buried the ball from close range with an easy finish.

Leon Flach rounded off a neat team move on the stroke of halftime with a powerful left-footed strike on the edge of the penalty area but had all the time in the world to get into position and pick his spot. He duly did so for 3-0 Union.

There was a ray of hope for Miami at the start of the second half when Robert Taylor’s shot from range took a big deflection and went in on the 50th minute. But Union were too good and too organized to let Miami back in.

Later, a scrambled Miami defense failed to deal with a ball over the top to Mikael Uhre. He held the ball up and looked for Carranza but Luiz, running back, inadvertently diverted the ball beyond goalkeeper Drake Callender for an own goal and Union’s fourth.

Jack McGlynn then hit the post with a powerful left-footed strike of his own.

Miami now have a week to pick up the pieces. Will interim coach Javier Morales, filling in after Phil Neville was fired, still be in place? 

Off the field, Inter Miami are in a thrilling place. Sergio Busquets will follow Messi through the entrance, as confirmed on Friday night in another stunning move by Jorge Mas and David Beckham.

Reports in Spain on Saturday also said that the team will step up effort to sign Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba, which would be another landmark signing. 

But the way things are going, 2023 will be a write off by the team they are lining up. Things need to change, fast. 

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