Messi and Inter Miami lost their first two preseason games 1-0 against Dallas, leaving them without a point.

On a cold and rainy Monday night at the Cotton Bowl, Lionel Messi came close to scoring against FC Dallas. Luis Suarez had a few of opportunities. Compared to its preseason opener against El Salvador’s national team, Inter Miami looked crisper overall and controlled the ball 69 percent of the time.

Nevertheless, after the 0-0 draw in San Salvador three nights before, there was still no goal during the 1-0 setback.

Inter Miami has not scored in the first 180 minutes of the 2024 preseason, despite having a squad full of stars, and it seems that the club is still working on its timing. A dejected Messi and his colleagues strolled off the field in bulky black jackets, courteously waving to the 32,211 spectators who had withstood the rain.

Eight shots were taken by each teams; three by Miami and four by Dallas were on frame.

After the game, Miami was supposed to take a plane home, train on Wednesday, and then fly to Saudi Arabia for two exhibition games on Thursday. After that, the squad will play two more games in Tokyo and Hong Kong before wrapping off the preseason campaign at home on February 15 against Newell’s Old Boys, the Argentine club that is Messi and Miami coach Tata Martino’s hometown team.

The regular season begins on February 21 versus Real Salt Lake at home.

Compared to El Salvador, Messi, Suarez, and Sergio Busquets played on the field for twenty minutes more versus Dallas. Rather of leaving the game at halftime, they played on until the 64th minute, at which point Leo Campana, Nico Stefanelli, and Gregore took their places. The fourth player from FC Barcelona on the squad, Jordi Alba, participated for the whole ninety minutes.

After a counterattack goal by Jesus Ferreira, a striker for the United States national team, Miami went behind in the third minute. After Paul Arriola threaded a diagonal ball into the right side of the box, Serhiy Kryvtsov and Noah Allen, two Miami defenders, were beaten by Ferreira to score.

Messi had one of his shots stopped by Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes, a long-range volley fall wide, and a risky corner kick miss. Suarez had many opportunities to score but was unable to complete. David Ruiz missed an opportunity to score as well.

“We are working every day to improve that, and we are trying to keep as many players up high as we can, in the area, to finish,” Ruiz said. “We believe we are ready for the upcoming season; we are getting preseason minutes to prepare.”

Ruiz said, “I am learning from the way they combine, like they did in Barcelona, how they read each other and how they get to the final third,” when asked about playing with Messi, Busquets, Suarez, and Alba.

Compared to the Miami-Dallas match in the 2023 League Cup, when Inter Miami came back from deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 to draw the game late on a goal by Messi and win in a penalty kick shootout, this match was significantly less exciting.

Coach Tata Martino started the game on Monday with the same starting lineup he used against El Salvador: Busquets in the midfield, Gressel on the right side, Messi and Suarez up top, and Alba, Allen, Aviles, and Yedlin as defenders. Drake Callender, who was playing for the US national team, came back as the goalie. Ruiz began in place of Benjamin Cremaschi as an offensive midfielder, while Kryvtsov started at the defense.

Cremaschi didn’t participate in the match. If he was hurt, the club kept it a secret.

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