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Messi, Suarez score but Inter Miami falls to Al Hilal: Takeaways

Inter Miami finally broke through with the team’s first goals of its preseason world tour – including one each from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez – but it wasn’t enough in a 4-3 loss to Al-Hilal on Monday.

The loss is Miami’s second of preseason, which opened with a scoreless draw against the El Salvador national team and a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas.

The game was played as part of the Riyadh Season Cup, which continues on Thursday with a highly-anticipated Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo matchup as Miami takes on Al-Nassr.

Here are some takeaways from the match.

Suarez, Messi looking more in sync with teammates

After failing to score in their first two preseason games, Inter Miami finally started to look a bit more connected and polished in the final third on Monday.

Luis Suarez scored his first goal of the preseason with a finish into an empty net after an Al Hilal defender toe-poked the ball away from Julian Gressel and into his path just a few yards away from the net. Despite initially being ruled offside, VAR showed that it was the defender, not Gressel, who played the ball into Suarez’s path for the goal.

Despite coming off that touch, the movement from Gressel and Suarez was very good on the goal and showed some signs of the growing connection between new teammates.

After Al Hilal opened things back up to 3-1, Lionel Messi got his first goal of the preseason with a penalty kick finish after homegrown David Ruiz drew the foul in the box. A minute later, Ruiz had the moment of the match with an impressive strike, getting on the end of a Messi pass, cutting back into his right foot and lashing home a strike inside the near post.

Giving up a late goal to lose, 4-3, is never a positive, but Inter Miami will have some good things to take away from the performance overall. – Paul Tenorio

Defensive struggles

Inter Miami continues to struggle defensively, primarily in transition. However, against Al Hilal, missed assignments and poor clearances were factors in the home side’s goals. Additionally, goalkeeper Drake Callender had an average night. He was shaky on the ball and failed to command his box with authority.

Miami’s winless start is enough to sound the alarms for some, but no one should be panicking just yet. These are tests, and surely head coach Tata Martino will use these setbacks and the uninspired defensive performances, to focus on what needs to be improved before the MLS season opener on Feb. 21. – Felipe Cardenas


Inter Miami to wear new home kit against Al Hilal

Another key injury

For the third time this preseason, Inter Miami saw a projected starter leave a friendly early with an injury. In the second half, center back Sergiy Kryvtsov appeared worse for wear after heading a powerful shot with the side of his head. The potential contact to his temple left him seated on the field for a couple of minutes. The Ukraine international attempted to play on, but was substituted off minutes later after again needing to sit on the pitch.

This first friendly of their preseason world tour saw Facundo Farias suffer a season-ending ACL injury, while the following game saw U.S. international Benjamin Cremaschi suffer a sports hernia that’ll require at least 2-3 months of recovery. Considering the fact that defense is far and away the weakest area of the pitch for Miami, seeing Kryvstov miss time would be another blow to the team’s lofty expectations in 2024. – Jeff Rueter

(Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

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