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Inter Miami CF Easily Defeat Charlotte FC in Leagues Cup Quarter-Final

By Mike Rodriguez

Inter Miami CF dominated all parts of the game Friday night as they hosted Charlotte FC at Drv Pnk Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, FL during the Leagues Cup quarter-final.

Tata Martino made one change to the starting lineup by adding the 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi over Diego Gomez. Gomez was a starter for the Dallas FC game. The team is starting to place more trust in Cremaschi as his confidence continues to build. He is not as fast and explosive as Diego Gomez. However, he seems more tactical when moving in and around the field and has very good vision. Also, Cremaschi seems to find himself at the right place/right time often during games.

Inter Miami CF’s First Goal by Josef Martinez

Inter Miami CF drew first blood early in the game. Jordi Alba found an open Benjamin Cremaschi in the 9th minute of the game who then pushed the ball toward the 18-yard line and managed to attract 4 Charlotte FC defenders. Cremaschi made an extraordinary pass to an open Josef Martinez who laid it off to an open Lionel Messi. When Miami’s two top scorers are wide open it can only mean that this play was a total collapse of Charlotte Fc’s back line.

Messi’s shot was blocked and deflected in the air by a Charlotte defender when none other than Cremaschi, as I stated earlier, was at the right place and time and shot the ball toward the goal. The ball was blocked and deflected by the hand of a Charlotte FC defender, which the referee missed. But, seconds later Inter Miami retrieved the ball and passed it to Dixon Arroyo who was fouled inside the penalty box earning Miami a penalty kick.

Once again, Lionel Messi gave Josef Martinez the opportunity to take the penalty kick. Josef made his approach toward the ball but threw off the Charlotte FC goalkeeper by not performing his iconic stutter step. He kicked the ball toward the bottom left side of the goal and scored giving Inter Miami the lead early in the game.

Inter Miami CF’s Second Goal by Robert Taylor

Inter Miami CF continued to maintain control of the game when in the 31st minute Sergio Busquets made a lovely pass from the center of the field to an open DeAndre Yedlin who was making a run on the right side of the field. Yedlin had several options as Messi and Martinez were attacking Charlotte FC’s penalty box yet decided to wait and not pass right away. His composure and patience allowed Charlotte’s defenders to stay with Messi and Martinez which allowed Yedlin to find an unmarked Robert Taylor at the top of the box. Yedlin made a world-class pass just in front of Taylor as he was running into the box and Taylor struck and scored for Inter Miami.

This is the perfect example of why Inter Miami brought in Jordi Alba. They recognized that Yedlin was unable to shine because defenders were always marking and staying with him. The addition of Jordi will cause havoc for defenders as they now have two very talented defenders who can play a very pivotal role in Miami’s attack.

Inter Miami continued to remain in control and for the most part, Charlotte FC was very flat during the first half. Charlotte FC striker Patrick Agyemang was subbed in at the commencement of the second half which allowed Charlotte to have a bit more dominance on the offensive side of the ball. His size and athleticism attracted a lot of coverage from Inter Miami defenders which allowed for his teammates to have room to operate near Miami’s 18-yard line.

In the 57th minute, Agyemang made a powerful shot on target from the 18-yard line however Inter Miami’s goalkeeper was able to stop and capture the ball. In the 76th minute, Charlotte FC was able to cross the ball from the right side of the field toward Miami’s penalty box and sailed straight toward Agyemang. Agyemang leaped into the air and headed the ball in what looked like a guaranteed goal yet he wasn’t able to convert. Instead, he headed the ball toward the ground just in front of the goal line and it bounced over the goalpost.

The addition of Patrick Agyemang definitely allowed Charlotte FC to create more goal-scoring opportunities than they did in the first half. Surely, if Agyemang would have started the game the storyline may have been different for Charlotte FC.

Inter Miami CF’s Third Goal Comes From a Charlotte FC Own Goal

Inter Miami FC’s third goal came in the 78th minute as Lionel Messi was able to find an open Diego Gomez, subbed in at the 71st minute, who was making a run on the left side of the field. Diego received and crossed the ball from within the penalty box which ended up in the back of the net by a Charlotte defender who slid and was attempting to kick the ball out of the goal area. It was Charlotte FC’s own goal that gave Miami their 3rd goal.

After Inter Miami’s third goal so late in the game, Charlotte FC’s player definitely appeared as if all hope was lost. And, that Miami would just run out the clock and secure their ticket to the Leagues Cup Semi-Finals.

Inter Miami CF’s Fourth Goal by Lionel Messi

However, Lionel Messi had different plans for how the game would finish. In the 85th minute, Messi made a gorgeous through pass to Leonardo Campana, subbed in at the 60th minute, who was covered by two Charlotte FC defenders while making a run toward the 18-yard line. The pass ricocheted off a Charlotte defender and rolled toward the left side of the penalty box which allowed Campana to sprint and recover the ball.

Upon recovering the ball, Campana turned toward the goal and patiently waited until finding Lionel Messi just outside the top of the 6-yard box. Campana threaded the needle with a surgical pass to Messi who redirected the ball into the back of the net with his left foot. Not only did this give Miami their 4th goal of the game but effectively sealed their victory and removed any chance of Charlotte FC being able to come back.

After his goal, Messi did the spider man celebration while looking toward his children. Replicating Marvel superheroes during his goal celebrations is a common theme that he has adopted due to his children’s love for Marvel characters.

Final Take Away

Everything seems to be going right for Inter Miami CF once Lionel Messi decided to wear pink and black and take his talents to South Beach. Inter Miami absolutely controlled the game with just over 700 passes to Charlotte’s 416 and also won the possession game with 62% to 38%. The herons appear to be flying high right now and seem to be a strong team going forward for not only the remainder of the Leagues Cup but for regular season play once MLS matches resume later this month.

Inter Miami CF vs Charlotte FC match stats 8-11-23

Inter Miami CF now prepares to play against Philadelphia Union as they advanced to the Leagues Cup semi-final by scoring a last-second goal to beat Querétaro FC 2 to 1 on Friday night. Philadelphia Union will host Inter Miami CF on Tuesday the 15th of August, 2023 scheduled for 7:00 pm (ET).

Catch the game on Apple TV MLS Season Pass with exclusive pre and post-game coverage and interviews.

One of the key takeaways of Inter Miami CF vs Charlotte FC’s game was that Messi appeared to be more involved on the defensive side of the ball. It appeared to work in Miami’s favor and it might be necessary for him to replicate it against Philadelphia Union on Tuesday night.

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