Inter Miami 2-0 Real Salt Lake: Player ratings as Lionel Messi leads the Herons to first win of 2024 season


Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both grabbed an assist each to propel Inter Miami to a 2-0 triumph over Real Salt Lake in the first game of the 2024 MLS season at Chase Stadium.

The most anticpated MLS opening fixture of all time was rather anticlimactic, with neither team doing particularly well going forward in the early going.

A foul from RSL’s Pablo Ruiz set up Lionel Messi for a direct free kick in a favorable position outside of the visitors’ penalty area, in which the 36-year-old came so close to scoring from distance but Justen Glad denied him with a headed clearance off the goal line.

Many thought it was going to be Messi or Luis Suarez to score the first goal of the new season. But instead, it was Finland international Robert Taylor who latched on to Messi’s excellent through ball to send a strike at goal that RSL’s Zac MacMath really should’ve done better with.

MacMath pulled off several incredible saves earlier in the first half, but he let in the one he was really expected to keep out. Nonetheless, the hosts were 1-0 up and took the narrow lead into halftime.

Miami were a bit sloppy in possession to start the second half, and they were fortunate that the likes of Cristian ‘Chicho’ Arango and Pablo Ruiz were still rusty as they weren’t able to put away any of their favorable chances.

The Herons finished off RSL with a quick counter-attacking sequence that saw Paraguay youth international Diego Gomez find the back of the net after a slick layoff from Suarez, putting Miami up 2-0 with a comfortable advantage.

Miami held on for a 2-0 victory to open up the new season and will now prepare for a Sunday night clash out west with LA Galaxy, while RSL return to action on Saturday against St Louis CITY.

Robert Taylor scored the first goal of the season

Robert Taylor scored the first goal of the season / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

GK: Drake Callender – 6/10 – Wasn’t called to action much but nearly gifted RSL a goal by whiffing terribly on a clearance.

RB: DeAndre Yedlin – 6/10 – Strong at the back but limited going forward.

CB: Tomas Aviles – 7.5/10 – Stepped in to make a crucial interception in the opening minutes, and prevented Arango from getting a shot off in the second 45.

CB: Serhiy Kryvstov – 7/10 – Didn’t put a foot wrong at the back for the Herons.

LB: Jordi Alba – 7/10 – Made several effective overlapping runs that were paired with dangerous crosses fired into Salt Lake’s penalty area.

CM: Julian Gressel – 6/10 – Was average on the ball but got into good positions when the Herons were in transition.

CM: Sergio Busquets – 5.5/10 – Strung together several crisp passes from the midfield but he got worse as the clock ticked on.

CM: Diego Gomez – 7.5/10 – He looks to have carried his Pre-Olympic Tournament form into MLS by scoring in the first game of the season.

RW: Lionel Messi – 8.5/10 – Came so close to opening the scoring from a free kick and a corner, but made sure to leave his mark on the match with an assist.

ST: Luis Suarez – 6/10 – Muted for most of the contest but had a couple of nice passing sequences with Messi and Taylor near the edge of RSL’s penalty area.

LW: Robert Taylor – 7.5/10 – His strike should’ve been saved but he they all count the same.

Substitutes

SUB: David Ruiz (77′ for Gressel) – 6/10 – Locked down the midfield in the latter moments of the game.

SUB: Jean Mota (77′ for Taylor) – 6/10 – Didn’t get many looks at goal in his cameo.

SUB: Noah Allen (77′ for Aviles) – 6/10 – Helped anchor the defense to see the win out.

SUB: Lawson Sunderland (85′ for Busquets) – N/A

SUB: Leo Campana (90′ for Leo Campana) – N/A

Manager

Tata Martino – 7/10 – His starting lineup was a bit choppy; Miami looked threatening going forward but absolutely wide open at the back against a rusty RSL team. However, three points are three points.

Zac MacMath

Zac MacMath kept RSL in the game / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

GK: Zac MacMath – 7/10 – A super showing from MacMath that will be overlooked due his inability to keep out Taylor’s effort.

RB: Emeka Eneli – 6/10 – The player neither helped nor hindered his side.

CB: Justen Glad – 7.5/10 – Pulled off a few key interceptions while also denying Messi from getting on the scoresheet from a free kick.

CB: Brayan Vera – 7/10 – Wasn’t as dominant as his center-back partner but still defended valiantly.

LB: Andrew Broody – 6/10 – As if getting your hand stepped on wasn’t bad enough, he just about got put on Messi’s ever-changing highlight reel before a teammate stepped in to block the Argentine’s shot.

CM: Braian Ojeda – 7/10 – A lone bright spot in the middle of the park for Salt Lake.

CM: Nelson Palacio – 6/10 – Helped recycle possession to kickstart attacking movements.

RM: Andres Gomez – 5.5/10 – Struggled to make things happen from the wing.

AM: Pablo Ruiz – 7/10 – Put in a solid shift but it was clear to see he was still rusty after coming back form his knee injury.

LM: Diego Luna – 7/10 – Started slow but improved as the game wore on. Unfortunate to be taken off while his team still needed a goal.

ST: Cristian Arango – 5/10 – Found himself in plenty of favorable positions in front of goal but failed to properly test Callender.

Substitutes

SUB: Fidel Barajas (67′ for Palacio) – 6/10 – Offered little after coming on to aid his team’s midfield.

SUB: Anderson Julio (67′ for Gomez) – 6.5/10 – Played a perfectly-weighted pass across the face of goal that didn’t find a teammate.

SUB: Noel Caliskan (73′ for Luna) – 6/10 – Tried to stretch the Miami defense by making direct runs off the ball.

SUB: Bode Davis (86′ for Arango) – N/A

Manager

Pablo Mastreoni – 7/10 – His team selection was ideal and his side were in the game despite not creating many chances. His decision to sub off Luna, one of his better wingers, was questionable.

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