Atlanta hands Miami first ’24 MLS loss with Messi

Lionel Messi scored yet again, but it was the lone highlight for Inter Miami CF, as its 10-match Major League Soccer unbeaten run was ended by an Atlanta United side that got its first league win in nearly two months.

Unlike most leagues, MLS schedules games during some FIFA fixture periods, when release of players to national teams is mandatory. And after Copa, it would seem likely that Miami may lose some players again when national teams call for the Paris Olympics.


Messi had some opportunities in the early going, including a diving header about four minutes into the match off a chip into the middle of the box by Jordi Alba. Messi, fending off some contact, sent the ball into the turf and the carom spun over the crossbar; he gave Alba a thumbs-up for the idea as he picked himself up from the grass with a smile.


“For me, it was a game where we had to find alternatives to attack and so we couldn’t justify bringing in midfielders or midfielders with defensive characteristics like Benjamin Cremaschi,” Martino said. “We are a team that needs the ball to attack and win. We can recede with two lines of four, but when we break into more offensive options with five at the front we give the rival more of a chance to win than ourselves.”


And in the 21st minute, Messi sent a chip toward the left post — just over a leaping Robert Taylor, who would have had plenty of net to aim for had he been able to attempt the header.


His goal in the 63rd minute was a typical Messi masterpiece, threading a ball between two defenders and just inside the right post, barely out of the reach of a diving Atlanta goalie Josh Cohen.

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