Player with most career trophies - Lionel Messi wins Leagues Cup with Inter Miami
Less than two months after joining Inter Miami CF from PSG on a free transfer, Lionel Messi has secured his first trophy with his new club and his 44th overall—the most by any player in history (overview). The two teams that entered Major League Soccer together in 2020 could not be separated over 90 minutes, and with the scoreline 1-1, it took 11 rounds of penalties to finally find a winner, with Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callendar stopping Nashville keeper Elliot Panicco.
The penalties reflected what happened in the 90 minutes leading up to spot kicks. The two teams just couldn’t be separated. In fact, it took a wonder strike by Messi (23’) to open the scoring—the Argentine has won the Golden Boot with an unbelievable ten goals in just seven games and was also named the tournament's MVP. Fafa Picault (57’) then equalized from a corner. But it was an ugly goal that needed several reflections to finally get across the line.
After the equalizer, it was mostly Nashville who pushed for the second goal. Hany Mukhtar—the league’s most productive player since the start of the 2021 season—seemed on a mission that despite Messi’s arrival, the German was still the MLS MVP. Mukhtar created several opportunities for Nashville and had a big chance himself, but Callendar was there to keep the ball out after a fantastic breakaway. And Inter Miami? The Beckham-owned club seemed to be running on fumes, but there would be one final moment with Sergio Busquets sending the ball over the top of Nashville’s defense to Leonardo Campana; the Ecuadorian beat Panicco but then missed the wide-open goal.
Leagues Cup 44th trophy for Messi – US Open Cup next?
The Leagues Cup is likely just the beginning for Messi in MLS. The 35-year-old Argentine captain will be next in action on Wednesday against FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup. Inter Miami are in the semi-final in that competition and, therefore, just two games away from doubling their trophy haul this season.
Either way, winning the Leagues Cup is an impressive achievement, considering that Inter Miami currently sit last in the overall MLS standings with just 18 points from 22 games. The Florida-based club is 12 points out of the playoffs with just 12 games to go. It would take an amazing run for Messi and Co. to make up that gap. Not impossible, given Messi’s run in the Leagues Cup. But even with Inter Miami missing out on the playoffs, Messi will feature in the newly revamped Concacaf Champions Cup (previously Concacaf Champions League). The teams finishing first, second, and third (Philadelphia Union) will gain a spot in Concacaf’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.