Inter Miami celebrated their first championship just a month ago, a vision come true with Lionel Messi leading the way and sharing the joy with co-owners David Beckham, Jorge, and Jose Mas. It was a new addition to the club’s trophy collection.
In contrast, Inter Miami’s quest for a second title on Wednesday night was a stark departure from their initial success.
Without Messi and former Barcelona star Jordi Alba, who were both on the bench with their wives due to unspecified injuries, their chances were slim. It wasn’t until the 91st minute of stoppage time that a goal ignited the crowd’s hopes of witnessing Messi’s brilliance.
The most thrilling moments occurred in the final three minutes, yet the outcome had already been determined. As the match concluded, Messi acknowledged the fans in the crowd, but his team fell short. Meanwhile, Inter Miami’s players left the field, and the Houston Dynamo celebrated their victory in the Open championship on the same pitch.
Griffin Dorsey found the net in the 24th minute, and Amine Bassi successfully converted a penalty kick in the 32nd minute, securing a 2-1 victory for the Houston Dynamo over Inter Miami in the U.S. Open Cup final at DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday night.
Josef Martinez managed to score for Inter Miami in the first minute of stoppage time, with a total of six extra minutes added to the match. However, additional shots on goal by Leo Campana and Facundo Farias did not come close to changing the outcome.
Inter Miami‘s coach, Tata Martino, had been forthright, indicating that Alba was likely to miss the match. The suspense regarding Messi’s participation persisted until just an hour before the game when he failed to join his teammates on the team bus and was absent from the day’s lineup.
For weeks, Martino had emphasized Inter Miami’s focus on the Open final, hoping that sufficient rest for Messi and Alba would make them available and enable Inter Miami to add another trophy during the brief two-month Messi era.
However, instead of celebrating, Inter Miami had to witness the Houston Dynamo’s triumph in the Open championship on their home turf.
The ongoing curiosity surrounding Messi before every Inter Miami game will persist with five MLS matches left this season.
In September, Messi was absent from his fourth match – three Inter Miami games and a 2026 World Cup qualifying match for Argentina.
Messi is managing an undisclosed, long-standing injury that, fortunately, does not necessitate surgery.
In Messi’s absence, Inter Miami displayed a lackluster performance in the first half, allowing the Houston Dynamo to secure a 2-0 lead within just nine minutes.
Despite their improved performance in the second half, Inter Miami couldn’t replicate the spark Messi provided, which had enthralled soccer fans worldwide for most of the past two months, until the final minutes. Unfortunately, they ran out of time to secure their second title.
Final Score: Houston Dynamo 2, Inter Miami 1
The last three minutes provided more excitement than the entire match itself.
Inter Miami had several opportunities but ultimately fell short.
In the final three minutes of the match, Facundo Farias missed wide to the left, and Leo Campana couldn’t connect with a header, following Josef Martinez’s stoppage-time goal, which brought the score to 2-1.
In the end, Inter Miami’s quest for a second title fell short.
Even without him and Jordi Alba, Leo Messi waved to fans in the crowd after watching his side come up short in the U.S. Open Cup final.
Josef Martinez goal: Houston Dynamo 2, Inter Miami 1
Although it may be too little, too late, there’s still time.
Josef Martinez found the net in the 91st minute of the match, narrowing Houston Dynamo’s lead to 2-1 during extra time.
This was the crucial strike and score that Inter Miami had been searching for throughout the entire match, igniting a late frenzy among the Inter Miami fans inside DRV PNK Stadium.
VAR leads to no goal: Houston Dynamo 2, Inter Miami 0
Nelson Quiñónes patiently positioned himself on the left side and delivered a pass from Amine Bassi that sailed past Inter Miami’s goalkeeper, Drake Callendar, in the 73rd minute.
Hold on a moment: A VAR review revealed that Quiñónes was in an offside position.
It could have been a comfortable 3-0 lead and a straightforward victory in the final minutes of the U.S. Open Cup final, but Inter Miami still has a chance in this 2-0 match with approximately 15 minutes remaining.
Can Inter Miami capitalize on this opportunity?
Inter Miami steps up their game in the first 25 minutes of the second half, still trailing 2-0
Indeed, Inter Miami has increased their pace and effort in the second half.
Josef Martinez entered the match and had three shots on goal.
Benjamin Cremaschi also made another attempt with his right foot aimed at the net.
Leo Campana tried a header as well.
However, Inter Miami’s efforts were not successful in the first 25 minutes of the second half.
Halftime: Houston Dynamo 2, Inter Miami 0
Inter Miami finds themselves trailing 2-0 at halftime in the U.S. Open Cup final, and the match is even more one-sided than the score suggests.
During the first half, Houston Dynamo registered 18 shots, while Inter Miami managed just one.
In fact, Benjamin Cremaschi’s shot for Inter Miami, which sailed over the crossbar, occurred in the 42nd minute, well after Houston had secured their 2-0 lead with two goals in a span of just 9 minutes.
Griffin Dorsey found the net in the 24th minute, and Amine Bassi converted a penalty kick in the 32nd minute to give Houston the advantage.
Messi and Jordi Alba, both sidelined due to unspecified injuries, are not included in Inter Miami’s roster and are observing the match from the bench.