Lionel Messi and Inter Miami are on the brink of losing out from the 2023 MLS Playoff after a disappointing barren draw against Nashville at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida.
Messi has been the magic signing that has turned around the fate of Inter Miami. Since joining the club and making a prolific debut against Cruz Azul, Messi has racked up 11 goals in 9 appearances, leading the team to their first ever silverware.
The Barcelona legend starred for the Florida-based franchise as he led the team to a penalty shootout win over Nashville to clinch the Leagues Cup title.
However, it was a different ball game entirely when the club hosted Nashville again at the DRV PNK Stadium in a crunch MLS game to determine their MLS playoff fate.
Inter Miami needed a win over Nashville to keep their hopes of reaching 2023 MLS playoff alive after an initial poor start to the campaign that saw them stuck on the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.
Lionel Messi kicked off his Inter Miami career, playing Leagues Cup matches and subsequently winning the trophy for the team. He made his MLS debut with a 2-0 away win over New York Red Bulls.
The win saw Inter Miami rack up 21 points from 23 matches. Against Nashville, they needed a win to continue their push for a playoff finish.
Lionel Messi came up as a late substitute in the second half but could not turn the tides in favor of the home side as Nashville maintained a strong defensive display to deny the hosts.
Messi registered flashes of his brilliance with the ball after he dribbled off two Nashville defenders and attempted a shot but his effort was saved by Nashville goalkeeper.
The former PSG forward also had his late attempt to give Inter Miami the lead with a freekick saved again by Nashville goalkeeper.
The match ended with Inter Miami sharing spoils with the visitors as they settled for a barren draw. They have now bagged 22 points from 24 matches, moving one place up from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
How teams will qualify for 2023 MLS playoffs
Before the 2023 MLS season kicked off, MLS confirmed slight changes to the qualifications module for MLS playoffs.
In 2022, MLS playoff featured 12 matches but it has now been expanded to 24 matches.
18 teams will enter MLS playoff. But the competition will be reduced to 16 with the eighth and nineth team in each conference battling each other for the last two slots to join the 14 teams.
Inter Miami 2023 MLS playoff chances
All hope is not lost for Inter Miami to qualify for MLS playoffs. They have four intra-conference and 6 cross-conference matches to play. With the standard three points awarded for a win, a point for a draw, and 0 for a defeat, Inter Miami still stand a chance to qualify for the MLS playoffs.
They will hope to return to winning ways when they take on Los Angeles FC at BMO Stadium on Monday, 4 September 2023.