Apr 6, 2024; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; Inter Miami CF defender Sergio Busquets (5) moves the ball during the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Chase Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Inter Miami Draws Colorado

After taking the lead early in the second half, Inter Miami could not hold on and shares the spoils with Colorado 2-2.

First Half Error

Following a heartbreaking defeat to Monterrey, the Herons walked into Chase Stadium with a heavily rotated squad. Only four players that played against Rayados featured in the starting 11 on Saturday, including David Ruíz who is suspended for the second leg.

Although Miami played with its bench and reserves, the Herons had a decent first half. They lined up in a 4-3-3 with Toto Avilés starting as the CDM. On the attack, he would drop in as an anchor at times allowing the two center backs to get wide and the full backs to go higher up the pitch.

Both teams split the possession evenly, but Inter had seven shots to Colorado’s two. Avilés had Miami’s first big chance in the 17th minute. Leo Afonso kept a corner alive and whipped in a cross to the open Argentinian. He could not kept his header down and skied the opportunity.

Julian Gressel made his own opportunity in the 35′ minute. He took a shot from 30 yards out that just curled out of the far post.

Bad news for Inter as Ecuadorian striker Leo Campana picked up a muscular injury in his leg in the 41′ minute. He was substituted for Paraguayan starlet Diego Gómez, who moved to the wing bringing Shanyder Borgelin into the middle to play as the nine.

The Rapids did not look like they could score, until Ryan Sailor made a costly mistake. Kévin Cabral received the ball in the penalty box. He cut back, but Sailor already committed with the slide tackle.

Brazilian forward Rafael Navarro stepped up to take the penalty. He hit it to Drake Callender‘s left. The keeper guessed right, but couldn’t touch the strike giving Colorado the 1-0 lead as the first half came to a close.

Tactical Superiority

Lionel Messi made his long awaited return after going off injured after playing 50 minutes against Nashville SC on March 13. He entered after halftime and was greeted by loud cheers from the Inter Miami faithful.

Things really got going for the Herons after the 56′ minute when Sergio Busquets and Marcelo Weigandt entered the pitch for Avilés and Gressel respectively.

Two minutes later, Inter found the equalizer. Great one touch play and off the ball movement gave Franco Negri time and space in a dangerous position. He picked up his head and switched the ball to Messi who hit it first time into the far post scoring the equalizer.

It didn’t take long for the Herons to find the lead. Messi took his team on the counter. He played it forward to Ruíz. The Honduran picked his head up and saw two players making a run to the back post. He sent in a cross on the floor and Afonso placed it in scoring his first ever goal in professional soccer.

Final Push

Colorado was down, but not out. The Rapids had a fantastic chance in the 86′ minute. Academy graduate Cole Bassett sent in a beautiful ball through the lines. Sam Vines was one-on-one with the keeper, but completely fluffed his lines. Luckily for him, it wouldn’t have counted as he was a hair offsides.

With two minutes left in regulation, Gómez lost possession. The Rapids went on a counter attack. Calvin Harris saw Bassett across the goal and sent him the ball. Busquets was too slow to intercept the pass and the game was level.

Both teams coasted the remaining seven minutes of injury time as the game finished 2-2.

Up Next

The Herons are in Mexico on Wednesday to face Monterrey for the second leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup Quarterfinal. Although Inter Miami trails by one, Messi will be in the squad to help his team this time around.

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