With a 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, Inter Miami closed the distance to the playoff spots in Major League Soccer despite the absence of Lionel Messi.
While eight Inter Miami players, including Lionel Messi, were away on international duty, Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s squad showed their depth by extending their unbeaten streak across all competitions to 12 games.
Prior to Messi’s arrival, Miami, who had been languishing around the bottom of the Eastern Conference, understood the significance of every game as they sought to move into the top nine and clinch a playoff position. But their evening had a bumpy beginning.
Felipe Gutierrez fired a hard shot that goalkeeper Drake Callender was unable to stop, which allowed Daniel Salloi to score on the rebound.
Miami’s Leonardo Campana converted a penalty in the 25th minute after being hauled down by Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia following an aerial tackle.
Campana, unlike Messi, was not selected for this week’s South American World Cup qualifiers, and he proved to be essential. Just before halftime, he headed in a wonderful goal from a DeAndre Yedlin cross to give Miami a 2-1 lead.
Campana skillfully deflected a low Jordi Alba cross in the second half, coming close to completing a hat-trick, but Melia made an outstanding stop.
After Alba, who recently retired from the Spanish national team, displayed even more excellent performance, Melia was also called upon to act in order to deny Nicolas Stefaneli.
Midfielder Sergio Busquets, another former Spanish mainstay for Miami, was essential to the third goal. From the halfway line, he promptly took a free kick that put Argentine forward Facundo Farias through on goal. Farias scored with a shot that was nicely placed and exhibited outstanding poise.
With 12 minutes remaining, Alan Pulido scored his 13th MLS goal of the year for Sporting Kansas City, seizing on a lost pass and finishing with exactness.
The visitors put on a lot of pressure in the closing minutes, especially during the seven minutes of stoppage time when a worn-out Miami team was just clinging on.
Inter Miami is currently only six points behind Wayne Rooney’s ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference and has two games in hand after D.C. United was held to a 0-0 tie at home against San Jose.
Los Angeles FC, the defending champions and third-place team in the Western Conference, traveled to Portland Timbers later on Saturday.
Who won the soccer match between Inter Miami and Sporting Kansas City?
Inter Miami won the match with a score of 3-2.
Why was Lionel Messi absent from the match?
Lionel Messi, along with seven other Inter Miami players, was away on international duty during the match.
How long was Inter Miami’s unbeaten streak across all competitions at the time of this match?
Inter Miami had an unbeaten streak of 12 games across all competitions.
Who scored the goals for Inter Miami in the match?
The goals for Inter Miami were scored by Leonardo Campana, Facundo Farias, and an own goal by Sporting Kansas City’s Felipe Gutierrez.
Who was instrumental in setting up Facundo Farias’s goal for Inter Miami?
Midfielder Sergio Busquets played a key role in setting up Facundo Farias’s goal by providing a free kick from the halfway line.
Did Leonardo Campana play for his national team during the same week as this match?
No, unlike Lionel Messi, Leonardo Campana was not selected for his national team’s matches during that week.