Lionel Messi, Inter Miami beat Philadelphia Union, clinch spot in Leagues Cup final

Inter Miami is 6-0 since Lionel Messi joined the team from Paris Saint-Germain. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI
1 of 5 | Inter Miami is 6-0 since Lionel Messi joined the team from Paris Saint-Germain. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi scored his ninth goal in six games to help Inter Miami beat the Philadelphia Union and advance to the 2023 Leagues Cup final in Philadelphia.

Messi scored in the 20th minute of the 4-1 triumph Tuesday in Chester, Pa. Josef Martinez, Jordi Alba and David Ruiz also scored for the Herons.


"They are only going to get better," Union manager Jim Curtin told reporters. "That Miami team is going to go. Their ownership is going to spend like crazy and going to make them the best team in the league. ... That's coming and I don't think anything is stopping that."

The Herons, who remain the last place team in MLS, will take on Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final Saturday in Nashville. They are undefeated (6-0) since Messi joined the team for the start of the Leagues Cup, which does not impact MLS standings.

Martinez started the scoring in the 3rd minute. Defender Serhiy Kryvtsov threaded a long pass from behind midfield to start the play. Martinez ran into the box and used his first touch to fire a shot just inside the far post.


The Herons doubled the lead less than 16 minutes later. Martinez received the ball just beyond midfield to spark a play in transition. He then turned his dribble and found Messi to his left. Messi stopped the ball and dribbled about 15 yards before he unleashed a grounded shot from about 30 yards out. The laser flashed by goalie Andre Blake and found the right side of the net.

Fellow Herons striker Robert Taylor assisted left back Jordi Alba for the Herons' third score in first-half stoppage time. Taylor dribbled between a crowd of defenders at midfield to create space. He then slipped a long through ball ahead for Alba. The veteran defender blazed down the field with his dribble and finished the play with a shot into the far-post netting.

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya finally put the Union on the scoreboard in the 73rd minute. That goal came after a corner kick was deflected. The ball bounced around the box before it landed about six yards away from the near post. Bedoya ran to the ball and smashed in a shot with the outside of his right boot.


Herons midfielder David Ruiz scored the final goal of the game in the 84th minute. Right back Deandre Yedlin dribbled up the right flank before he dropped a pass in the box for Ruiz. The midfielder ran onto the ball and used his right boot to hit a shot into the far-post netting just before Blake could stop the attempt.

Inter Miami, who also claimed a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup spot with the victory, will face Nashville SC at 9 p.m. EDT Saturday at Geodis Park. The game will air on Apple TV.

MLS: Lionel Messi, Inter Miami CF dominate Atlanta United

Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF reacts after his first goal during the League's Cup match against the Atlanta United at DRV PNK Stadium on July 25, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Inter Miami won 4-0. Photo by Larry Marano/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines