Quick Bit: With Lionel Messi potentially set to return, Inter Miami face a critical yet difficult turning point in their MLS playoff chase as they host FC Cincinnati on Saturday.
With Lionel Messi returning from injury to make the bench, Inter Miami face a critical yet difficult turning point as they host FC Cincinnati on Saturday.
Inter Miami must win to ensure their MLS playoff hopes remain alive. Should they fail to secure all three points, they would put themselves at risk of elimination depending on outside results, and could potentially be confirmed out by the end of the evening.
The required victory must come against the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners, as FC Cincinnati backdoored into confirmation of the 2023 regular-season title midweek despite defeat to the NY Red Bulls.
Messi has missed the past four matches for Inter Miami due to injury, a stretch during which his team have not won a single match. While his injury continues to restrict his ability to see the field, he is at least fit enough to make the bench for tonight’s do-or-die match.
The Sporting News is following the Inter Miami vs. FC Cincinnati match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati live score
Kickoff: 7:39 p.m. ET / 4:39 p.m. PTLocation: DRV PNK Stadium (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
Inter Miami (5-3-2, right to left): 1. Callender (GK) — 2. Yedlin, 6. Aviles, 27. Kryvtsov, 31. Miller, 32. Allen — 41. Ruiz, 5. Busquets, 30. Cremaschi — 11. Farias, 17. Martinez.
FC Cincinnati (5-4-1, right to left): 18. Celentano (GK) — 13. Arias, 4. Hagglund, 21. Miazga, 32. Murphy, 31. Barreal — 5. Nwobodo, 10. Acosta, 93. Moreno — 19. Vazquez, 17. Santos.
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati live updates, highlights, commentary
15 mins to kickoff: Interestingly, while tonight’s match should kick off without any negative attention, it seems the club just managed to get off the ground without a hitch. According to Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald, the supporter groups had planned a protest regarding 2024 season ticket prices, but the club offered to meet with them this coming week so they called it off until that can take place.
A reminder, this match officially kicks off at 7:39 p.m. ET so there will be a slight delay from the advertised 7:30 p.m. time.
30 mins to kickoff: Lionel Messi’s availability for Inter Miami is a welcome sight for the club, as they take the field today with their backs against the wall. Inter Miami must win tonight to ensure they remain alive in the playoff race. A draw or a loss, however, would see them vulnerable to outside results.
If Inter Miami do not win, two of the following three possible outcomes would trigger their elimination from playoff contention: FC Montreal beats Portland Timbers; NYCFC wins versus D.C. United; and Chicago Fire picks up points against Charlotte FC.
Those are all conceivable results, and therefore Inter Miami will wish to keep it in their own hands just a little longer. They’ll eventually need other results to go their way to climb the table, but for now, their survival is solely up to them.
45 mins to kickoff: Lineups are in, and Lionel Messi is on the bench for Inter Miami.
For FC Cincinnati, Luciano Acosta starts despite the match being meaningless from a tangible standpoint, understandable considering he is chasing the Golden Boot. Ian Murphy comes in for Yerson Mosquera at the back, while Aaron Boupendza is rotated out up front with Brandon Vazquez and Sergio Santos starting together up front.
1 hour to kickoff: With lineups still yet to be released, let’s take a look at one player who is, in fact, an MVP candidate for this year.
FC Cincinnati forward Luciano Acosta is one back of Denis Bouanga for the MLS goal scoring lead with two matches left, sitting on 16 for the year. With 13 assists alongside that, his 29 total goal contributions are best in the league, above the 27 of Thiago Almada and 25 of Hany Mukhtar. Acosta ranks as the second-highest rated player by WhoScored this season across all of Major League Soccer.
You wonder if he’s going to be rested tonight with the Supporters’ Shield and No. 1 seed locked up. It would be devastating for him to be injured in a meaningless game, regardless of the opponent.
1 hour 15 mins to kick: Lionel Messi was nominated for not only MLS Newcomer of the Year for the 2023 season, but also 2023 MLS MVP.
Laughable doesn’t even begin to describe that blatant PR move, considering that most of the damage Messi has done for Inter Miami has come in Cup competitions. He has one goal and two assists in 247 minutes of play in actual MLS competition. Lionel Messi has been fun, but let’s hope the league doesn’t make a mockery of itself by actually giving Messi either honor.
1 hour 30 mins to kick: As if Inter Miami’s predicament tonight wasn’t difficult enough, requiring a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, it will have to come against the best team in Major League Soccer through the 2023 regular season.
FC Cincinnati won the Supporters’ Shield as the regular season champion, confirmed on Wednesday despite suffering defeat. It’s been an exceptional season for the club, and they won’t stop here just because they have nothing tangible left to gain over the final few matches.
1 hour 45 mins to kick: It’s Fan Appreciation Night at DRV PNK Stadium, where they’re giving out Inter Miami bucket hats to the first few fans through the gates.
That’s nice and all, but the best way to appreciate the fans would be to not price out the loyal supporters from season tickets next year. Instead, Inter Miami has jacked 2024 membership rates to put the club amongst some of the most expensive tickets in not just MLS, but the world.
While there will certainly be folks who can afford those high-demand tickets, many of those individuals won’t be the same fans who have supported the club from its inception in 2020. This means Inter Miami have chosen to secure maximum profit at the expense of its fanbase, and a high turnover amongst the regular in-person support from this season to next is likely.
(Also, you’ll notice a photo of Lionel Messi’s jersey hanging in his locker in that tweet below, a pretty good indication that he’ll return tonight)
2 hours to kickoff: A report from well-connected Argentine journalist Gaston Edul last night indicated that Inter Miami are likely to have Lionel Messi back for this match in some capacity. Edul reported that “the idea is for Leo Messi to get minutes when Inter Miami plays FC Cincinnati”.
That makes it sound like Messi will only be available off the bench, but it’s better than nothing to have a game-changer like him available at all.
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati lineups & team news
There is a report that Lionel Messi could finally make his return from injury, and while it felt unlikely that Messi would start three days after missing out entirely, he appears on the bench today and could be available for a second half appearance if required.
Jordi Alba remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, missing since his injury just minutes before Messi, and without a publicly known timeline for a return. Also missing is striker Leonardo Campana who was absent from the midweek defeat to the Chicago Fire with a muscle injury, although Gerardo Martino described his issue as “minor.”
Important midfielder Gregore, who has missed most of the season with a foot injury, is back in training and should return to the field at some point, although when is not known. Defender Tomas Aviles is back from suspension and starts in the three center-back system.
Inter Miami starting lineup (5-3-2): Callender (GK) — Yedlin, Aviles, Kryvtsov, Miller, Allen — Ruiz, Busquets, Cremaschi — Farias, Martinez.
Inter Miami subs (12): Dos Santos (GK), Sailor, Taylor, Mota, Arroyo, Ulloa, Robinson, Messi, Stefanelli.
Defender Alvas Powell is suspended for the match after being sent off against the New York Red Bulls last time out, with Santiago Arias stepping in at right-back.
FC Cincinnati are otherwise light on availability concerns, with only a leg injury for Arquimides Ordonez and a long-term injury to young midfielder Stiven Jimenez to worry about.
Talisman forward Luciano Acosta was partially rested midweek, coming off the bench to score the team’s only goal against the Red Bulls in 32 minutes of play, so he is ready to go as he chases the league’s Golden Boot award. Also rested midweek was Alvaro Barreal who leads the team in minutes and also logged just 32 of them on Wednesday.
FC Cincinnati starting lineup (5-3-2): Celentano (GK) — Arias, Hagglund, Miazga, Murphy, Barreal — Nwobodo, Acosta, Moreno — Vazquez, Santos.
FC Cincinnati subs (9): Kann (GK), Kubo, Mosquera, Angulo, Badji, Pinto, Halsey, Valenzuela, Boupendza.
How to watch Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati
Apple TV+ (MLS Season Pass)
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati betting odds & lines
Both teamsto score Y / N
Over / Under2.5 goals
-185 / +125
-175 / +120
Originally found on Sporting News Read More