Lionel Messi’s Major League Soccer (MLS) season came to an end on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium when he lost 1-0 to Charlotte FC away from home, capping off a dream debut for him with Inter Miami.
After losing to Charlotte in the 13th minute due to a goal by Kerwin Vargas, Miami was eliminated from the playoffs, but Charlotte became the first team in the second year to advance.
After Messi joined the team in July, Miami went on a record 12-game winning streak and won its first trophy—the Leagues Cup. However, the team finished the season winless in seven games, with Messi missing a few of those due to injury.
“When we arrived, we had two competitions in which we had the potential to compete well: the Leagues Cup and the U.S. Open Cup. We were also involved in a tournament where we were in a complicated situation,” said head coach Gerardo Martino, per the club’s official site, who joined the club in June with the club bottom of its conference.
“Out of the three tournaments, one was won by Inter Miami. If, at the time of signing, you had told me that we were going to win one of the three tournaments, I would have certainly signed with my eyes closed.”
According to the MLS, 66,101 spectators attended the match, many no doubt there to watch Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and one of the best to have ever played the game.
The Argentine led Miami and participated in the whole game. Goalie Kristijan Kahlina deflected his curling free kick onto the crossbar in the 62nd minute, and he also had a goal disallowed for offside early in the second half.
With 34 points at the end of the season, Miami is ranked 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, while Messi finishes the season with 11 goals in 14 games during his first year.