Inter Miami suffered their first defeat since Lionel Messi joined them earlier this summer. Messi was rested by Inter Miami team management and the decision proved to be costly as they had to face a 5-2 loss to Atlanta United in the Major League Soccer (MLS) yesterday. Following the game, Atlanta United took a dig at Messi, making a reference to a strange choice of pizza made by the former Barcelona goal-scorer.
Messi had shared a picture of pizza from Bancheros – a famous restaurant in Miami. The picture triggered a buzz as Messi decided to opt for a base covered with chopped tomatoes, onions and olives for his pizza. Following their win against Inter Miami, Atlanta United posted a picture of a similar pizza, only with fewer tomatoes shaped into an ‘L’ to denote the Herons’ loss. “Here you have your pizza for the trip,” read the caption of the post.
Messi did not travel to Atlanta with his Inter Miami teammates after being involved in international duties with Argentina in the World Cup qualifiers. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored a crucial goal to earn a 1-0 win against Ecuador in Argentina’s opening World Cup qualifiers. He did not take part in Argentina’s next World Cup qualifying fixture against Bolivia in La Paz last week. The defending World Cup champions comfortably won that game by a margin of three goals to nil.
Meanwhile, Inter Miami’s chances of reaching the MLS playoffs were heavily damaged with a defeat at the hands of Atlanta United. Apart from Messi, his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba also did not take part in the fixture due to injury issues. While talking about the omissions, Inter Miami coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said that he had to rest some of the big names ahead of crucial league matches and the US Open Cup final.
“We risked worse consequences if they came to play this game. It has nothing to do with the (artificial) surface. Sometimes it is difficult to make decisions because these are also decisive matches but there is a final on the 27th,” Martino was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Inter Miami’s Ecuadorian striker Leonardo Campana scored the first goal of the game against Atlanta United in the 25th minute. Atlanta United made a remarkable comeback having scored three goals in a space of just eight minutes. Inter Miami started the second half on a positive note and pulled a goal back in the 54th minute.
Though, their spirited display went in vain as they conceded two more goals later in the game to face a 5-2 loss. The defeat leaves Inter Miami next to the bottom of the standings of Eastern Conference in MLS. Inter Miami are right now six points behind D.C. United who claim the last playoff spot- the ninth position.