Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada #23 kicks the ball during the first half of the match against Inter Miami at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Tuesday July 25, 2023. (Photo by James Gilbert/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United fell 4-0 to Inter Miami CF Tuesday night at DRV PNK Stadium in its first Leagues Cup group stage match. With the victory, Miami secured the top spot in the group. Atlanta will host Cruz Azul on Saturday with the winner advancing to the Knockout stage. 

Atlanta appeared to strike first in the opening minutes of the match when Giorgos Giakoumakis found Tyler Wolff inside the box where he directed the ball into the net, however, an offside decision negated the goal. Brooks Lennon nearly scored in the seventh minute as he delivered a lofted cross towards goal that bounced off the post.

Miami opened the scoring in the eighth minute through Lionel Messi. Sergio Busquets played a ball over the top of Atlanta’s backline to Lionel Messi who found himself running in on goal and one-on-one with Brad Guzan. Messi struck a left-footed shot off the post before tapping in the rebound. The Argentine playmaker doubled the lead for Miami in the 22nd minute. Miami’s number 10 played the ball into the left side of the box toward the end line to Robert Taylor who crossed the ball back across Atlanta’s six-yard box where Messi continued his run and placed a right-footed finish past Guzan.

Thiago Almada nearly put Atlanta on the board in the 38th minute, intercepting a pass in the attacking third and firing a right-footed strike just outside the post. Just before halftime, Taylor added a third for Miami with a hard-hit strike into the upper right corner. The Finnish midfielder tallied his second of the night in the 53rd minute, collecting a pass from Messi on the counterattack and slotting the ball in off the post. 

Atlanta continued to attack in the second half looking for a goal and forced Drake Callender into a couple of good saves. In the 86th minute, Derrick Etienne Jr. won a penalty, which Callender saved off the boot of Almada who struck the ball to the goalkeeper’s right. 

Atlanta United (9-7-8, 35 points) returns to action in the second group stage match of Leagues Cup when it hosts Cruz Azul at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, July 29 (7 p.m. EDT, MLS Season Pass, Univision, 92.9 The Game, La Mejor). Both MLS and Liga MX have paused their league play for the duration of Leagues Cup. Atlanta returns to MLS Regular Season play on Sunday, Aug. 20 vs. Seattle Sounders at Lumen Field. All Atlanta United matches are available with an MLS Season Pass subscription, located on the Apple TV app.

-Jon Jones

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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