Messi-less Inter Miami MASSSACRED by Atlanta United in first loss since his arrival

Inter Miami, sans the presence of Lionel Messi,

Source: Getty Image

Inter Miami, sans the presence of Lionel Messi, experienced their first defeat since his joining the team back in July. The humbling 5-2 loss occurred during their face-off against Atlanta United, witnessed by a crowd of 71,635 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.

In a game that saw Tristan Muyumba, Brooks Lennon, and an unfortunate Kamal Miller own goal putting Atlanta United ahead by the end of the first half, Georgios Giakoumakis and Tyler Wolff later contributed to Atlanta’s victory with goals in the second half. As a result, Atlanta United, with a record of 12-8-9 and 45 points, improved to 9-3-3 in home games and currently stands sixth in the MLS Eastern Conference.

Leonardo Campana managed to score twice for Miami (8-15-4, 28 points), but their 12-game unbeaten streak across all competitions came to a halt. Miami’s manager, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, explained that Messi and Spanish defender Jordi Alba were absent due to “muscular fatigue,” clarifying that it had nothing to do with the FieldTurf surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Surprisingly, Atlanta United coach Gonzalo Pineda learned about Messi’s absence

 through social media. Despite the media frenzy surrounding Messi’s status, Pineda encouraged his players to stay focused and shift their attention to their own performance.

While Inter Miami managed to narrow the lead to 3-1 early in the second half through Campana’s penalty kick goal, Giakoumakis responded for Atlanta in the 76th minute, re-establishing the two-goal lead. Wolff then secured the win with an 89th-minute goal, making it Giakoumakis’ 14th goal of the season, tying him for the league’s top scorer.

Inter Miami initially took the lead in the 25th minute with Campana’s eighth goal of the season. However, Atlanta quickly turned the tide, scoring three goals in just eight minutes to lead 3-1 by halftime.

Campana showcased his skill by scoring his goal after picking up the rebound from Dixon Arroyo’s strike that had hit the post. He skillfully maneuvered around Atlanta defender Miles Robinson before defeating Brad Guzan.

Muyumba then managed to score the equalizer for Atlanta in the 36th minute with a header past Miami’s keeper, Drake Callender, although there was some controversy regarding whether the ball had crossed the goal line.

Atlanta’s third goal came courtesy of an own goal, as Xande Silva’s strike deflected off Inter Miami defender Kamal Miller and found its way past Callender. Lennon further extended Atlanta’s lead to 3-1 with a right-footed strike from the middle of the box after receiving a Caleb Wiley cross.

Looking ahead, Miami faces matches at home against Toronto on Wednesday and at Orlando on September 24, followed by the U.S. Open Cup final against the Houston Dynamo just three days later.

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