Lionel Messi finally had an off night by his standards as Inter Miami CF were held to a 0-0 draw by Nashville SC at the DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Argentina star has played nine games for Miami since joining MLS in July and has won all nine — six from six and three via penalty shootout in the League Cup, US Open Cup and MLS matches.
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But on Wednesday, Messi’s magical left boot failed to produce a decisive goal after finding the net 11 times in his first nine matches, and Miami dropped points in its long-odds quest to reach the MLS playoffs.
It was the first time Miami hadn’t scored since Messi’s arrival.
Messi started Wednesday’s game alongside former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets after both entered in the 60th minute in Miami’s previous game against the New York Red Bulls.
Miami was held scoreless in the first 60 minutes as the team struggled to break down No. 7 Nashville’s defense.
Messi attempted a free kick in the 60th minute after a foul on Nashville’s Dax McCarty, but his shot into the bottom-left corner was blocked by Elliot Panico.
However, Inter Miami fans took out their phones to register the free kick, and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored another goal similar to the one he scored on his debut — he netted one for Miami in the 94th minute. Mexican club Cruz Azul beat Mexican club in League Cup opener.
Then in the 69th minute a goal was ruled out by an offside call by Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar.
Messi had another chance in the 83rd minute but the shot bounced off a wall of defenders.
The two teams met 10 days ago in the League Cup final. Messi scored early and converted the first shot in penalty kicks, and Miami won after an 11-round penalty kick shootout for its first trophy.
Messi and the Inter Miami players posed with co-owner Jorge Mas on the field Wednesday with the League Cup trophy for the first time in front of their home fans.
The draw leaves Miami with 22 points with 10 games played, 10 points behind the final playoff spot currently occupied by the Chicago Fire. Messi and company will travel to BMO Stadium this weekend for Sunday’s match against defending MLS Cup champions LAFC.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.