After winning their first final in club history by defeating Nashville SC in Leagues Cup, Inter Miami can book their place in another final Wednesday when they face FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on CBS Sports Golazo Network. While Cincinnati have been the best team in Major League Soccer, leading the Supporters’ Shield race, things have changed quickly since the arrival of one Lionel Messi in America. Along with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, he has shifted Inter Miami into being contenders for every honor in the league, which will make this quite the match at TQL Stadium.
Despite Miami’s dominance, the number of games on their legs could give Cincinnati an advantage if they can strike quickly. Brandon Vazquez and Luciano Acosta are among the best attackers in the league and could give Inter Miami’s defense some serious trouble. On Saturday it took a 10-9 shootout for Messi and company to lift the Leagues Cup trophy, and they faced a semifinal before that that was more difficult than it seemed. Sure they won 4-1 over Philadelphia, but the Union held the team to five total shots.
It’s true that Messi has steamrolled the Major League soccer teams he’s played against, but on the whole the better MLS sides have been able to hang in there against Miami, and it’s taken some inspired work by keeper Drake Callendar (the man who also scored the Leagues Cup winning penalty) to keep Miami from leaking goals at the other end. The question is whether Cincinnati can take advantage.