Miami Is A Hot Mess(i)

Miami sports fans are passionate and, for the most part, loyal, but they are also unapologetically fickle.  When you live in an area defined by absolute beauty and phenomenally attractive people, you’re almost entitled to occasional wanderlust.

So it somewhat fortuitous for Inter Miami FC that their match with the New England Revolution just happened to run later than the Panthers’ Stanley Cup playoff loss to Tampa Bay, and especially after whatever momentum the Heat achieved against a far more formidable Massachusetts foe, the Boston Celtics, had been all but obliterated with a 20-point loss in Game 3 of their NBA playoff series in front of an overly optimistic Heat Culture crowd at Kasera Center.

Meanwhile, on the same field where the Dolphins suffered frequent indignities at the hands of Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck, at least until recently, the MLS franchise was able to extract a small measure of revenge with their own GOAT.  As the MIAMI HERALD’s Michelle Kaufman wrote this morning:

Lionel Messi played the full 96 minutes for Inter Miami against the New England Revolution on Saturday night, which was welcome news to the record Gillette Stadium crowd of 65,612 that bought tickets to see the Argentine icon. Once again, he delivered with two goals and an assist as the men in pink trounced the Revs 4-1.

And as the MLS.com staff was quick to point out, that Pats-size crowd saw a smidge of history:

(The) superstar forward set two MLS records in Saturday’s 4-1 win at the New England Revolution after posting two goals and one assist:

  1. First player in MLS history to record multiple goal contributions in five consecutive games.
  2. Most goal contributions (16) by any MLS player in the first seven matches of a season.

And at not even the one-third point of the 2024 season, Inter Miami has more points than any of the 29 teams in the league, and already more than half of the 34 they achieved during a season where Messi joined them mid-summer, nowhere near enough time for them to make more than a half-hearted run at a playoff berth in a league that qualifies more than half of them for some post-season action.

And the praise lauded upon him that Kaufman reported was as outsized as was the crowd that turned out wearing far more pink than the red, white and blue of their hometown team:

“We felt pretty good about our defending, we were limiting their effectiveness in creating clear chances, but that’s Messi…he finds two goals out of nowhere and it exposes you,” said New England coach Caleb Porter.

Miami midfielder Julian Gressel said: “Leo is Leo. He does the things he does, and has been doing it his whole career. This wasn’t just one spectacular performance. He’s certainly on a roll. He’s been having those every weekend. It’s good for us because it helps us win games. What gets me is how many people he touches with his play, the emotions he creates in people.”

Each time Messi scored, a large segment of the crowd erupted, and captured the moment on cell phones. Some fans were shown on T.V. bowing down to the Miami No. 10.

And the window of opportunity for Messi and his new team to take even further control of South Florida fandom is poised to become far more open in the coming months.  The Panthers will likely continue on, but they will likely run into a Boston Bruins team hell-bent on avenging their shocking first round loss last year in a season where they broke the NHL record for most regular season points and/or a far superior New York Rangers team even before the thought of another Stanley Cup finals is addressed.  And after last night’s dreadful performance, while the “Zombie Heat” can’t ever be fully counted out until the fourth loss in a series, their chances for their own repeat run don’t look good, either.  The Dolphins are three months away from training camp, and the Marlins already trail the Eastern Division-leading Braves by 13 1/2 games.  And it’s not even May.

So I suspect there will be more nights like last night ahead for Messi and Inter Miami to dominate dialogue at beaches and clubs and even Broward County delis.  As well as the minds of anyone who has ever frequented them and wishes he was somewhat part of all of this.

I can think of more than a few cherished friends that would truly look pretty in pink.

Courage…

 

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