The Argentine superstar hit a spectacular left-footed strike that put the Herons up 1-0 at FC Dallas in the sixth minute of Sunday’s Leagues Cup Round-of-16 showdown at Toyota Stadium.
The FC Barcelona legend linked up with former Blaugrana teammate Jordi Alba before beating goalkeeper Maarten Paes from atop the box. After a brief Video Review consultation, the goal stood and Messi reached six tallies to become tied for the tournament’s Golden Boot award – including goals in four straight matches.
Messi’s latest moment of brilliance came during his first MLS match away from home, a similar occasion for blockbuster signings Sergio Busquets and Alba.
Recent U22 Initiative signing Diego Gómez also made his maiden appearance in the starting XI after getting the nod from head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
Kickoff is set for 9:30 p.m. ET. Inter Miami are the +110 favorites (risk $100 to win $110) on the 90-minute money line in the latest Inter Miami vs. FC Dallas odds. FC Dallas are the +225 underdogs, a draw is priced at +260, and the over/under for total goals scored is 2.5. Before making any FC Dallas vs. Inter Miami picks or 2023 Leagues Cup predictions, be sure to see what proven SportsLine soccer insider Brandt Sutton is saying.
Sutton, a former collegiate soccer player, has been SportsLine’s top soccer editor since 2017. He has followed soccer closely for much longer and factors in managerial tactics, projected lineups and past performances to make the most-informed decisions possible, keeping his finger on the pulse of the game all over the globe.
Sutton finished the 2022-23 Champions League season with a 16-7 record (+8.93 units) on SportsLine’s UCL pick sheet. He also finished 2022 as SportsLine’s No. 1 soccer expert with a 165-130-2 mark, returning nearly $2,200 for $100 players.
Messi had several free kicks in the second half, with each attempt bringing everyone in the sellout crowd of 19,096 to their feet, most of them recording with cell phones.
Facundo Quignon and Bernard Kamungo scored in the first half for FC Dallas to erase the 1-0 deficit from Messi’s early goal.
Alan Velasco, a native of Argentina who grew up idolizing Messi, made it 3-1 with a bouncing free kick that eluded several defenders and keeper Drake Callender for a 3-1 lead in the 63rd minute.
Two minutes later, Cremaschi pulled Inter Miami within a goal to set up the wild finish.
The second of Messi’s three consecutive two-goal games came in the first Leagues Cup elimination game, a 3-1 Miami victory over Orlando City that was delayed by an hour and a half because of a torrential rainstorm in Florida.
Why you should back FC Dallas
FC Dallas have performed well to this point in Leagues Cup action, including a Round of 32 win over Mazatlan FC. Eugene Ansah scored for the second straight game, and Alan Velasco added a goal in that victory. Previous to that, FC Dallas defeated Necaxa by a 3-0 margin in the group stage behind goals from Ansah, Sebastian Lletget, and Jesús Ferreira. Defense has been a calling card for FC Dallas, currently ranking No. 3 in the MLS Western Conference with 26 goals allowed. The club is also No. 3 in expected goals allowed, with only one goal allowed in the last two wins against Mazatlan and Necaxa.
FC Dallas also have home-field advantage in this matchup, and the club has a +6 goal differential in MLS home games this season. On the other side, Inter Miami have lost nine of 11 road matches in MLS action, and the team’s last road game was a 3-0 loss to St. Louis City on July 15. Finally, FC Dallas have a recent head-to-head win over Inter Miami, defeating the club on April 8 in Fort Lauderdale.
Messi’s game-tying goal set the stage for the penalty kick shootout, which he won the coin toss and made the first goal. FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal missed the second kick. Benjamin Cremaschi sealed the final kick for Inter Miami.
“I knew where I was going, and I knew how I was going to take it,” said Cremaschi, who sparked Inter Miami’s comeback with a goal off the bench in the 65th minute.
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