In front of 71,635 spectators at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, Inter Miami was humiliated 5-2 by Atlanta United while missing Lionel Messi, and it was the team’s first defeat since his arrival in July.
Tristan Muyumba, Brooks Lennon, and a Kamal Miller own goal placed the home team in lead at the end of the first half. Atlanta (12-8-9, 45 points) then improved to 9-3-3 at home with goals from Georgios Giakoumakis and Tyler Wolff. After the victory, the team’s position in the MLS Eastern Conference is still sixth.
For Miami (8-15-4, 28 points), whose 12-game winning streak in all competitions was snapped, Leonardo Campana scored twice.
Messi and Spanish defender Jordi Alba were both absent from the game, according to Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who claimed that their absences were caused by “muscular fatigue” rather than the FieldTurf surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Gonzalo Pineda, the head coach of Atlanta United, claimed to have found out about Messi’s choice via social media.
“I checked the Twitter account to know he was not coming,” Pineda said, adding he encouraged his players to remain focused despite the attention given Messi’s status.
“Honestly, I told the players, there are a lot of things out there in the atmosphere and everything seems to be about Inter Miami. We have to turn that to about us.”
Early in the second half, Inter Miami was down 3-1, but Campana’s second goal on a penalty kick brought them within one.
Giakoumakis and Wolff added insurance goals for Atlanta In the 76th and 89th minutes, respectively, restoring the two-goal advantage. Giakoumakis matched for the league lead with his 14th goal.
Campana’s ninth goal of the year gave Inter Miami the lead in the 25th minute. Atlanta overcame the deficit by scoring three goals in eight minutes to go into halftime with a 3-1 advantage.
Campana used deft footwork to get by Atlanta defender Miles Robinson and beat Brad Guzan after Dixon Arroyo’s shot struck the post and rebounded.
Muyumba equalized for Atlanta by sending a header past Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in the 36th minute. When the play was reviewed, it wasn’t clear from the video if the ball had passed the goal line.
Atlanta earned on an own goal to take the lead. The shot from Xande Silva was deflected past Callender by Inter Miami defender Kamal Miller.
Lennon scored Atlanta’s third goal of the game after receiving a cross from Caleb Wiley, beating Callender with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box.
Miami plays Toronto at home on Wednesday and Orlando away on September 24 before facing the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final three days later.