Miami Herald

Inter Miami beats Vancouver on the road, proves it can win without stars

- BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN mkaufman@miamiheral­

Rest assured, Inter Miami fans. Your team can, in fact, win without Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets.

All three stars skipped the road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night to take a break heading into a busy week, and the shorthande­d Miami roster stepped up with a 2-1 victory to extend the team’s unbeaten streak to 10 games.

The win also kept the men in pink atop the MLS standings with 34 points on 10 wins, two losses and four ties.

The two Miami goals came from winger Robert Taylor, who replaced Messi in the starting lineup, and center forward

Leo Campana, who replaced Suarez.

Taylor displayed his exceptiona­l skill, receiving a perfect through ball from Jordi Alba on the left flank and then making a nice cutback and cranking the ball with his right foot into the far post in the 38th minute. Then, in the 54th minute, Taylor delivered the assist to Campana on the fast break.

With Copa America looming in late-June,

Inter Miami will have to get used to playing without Messi, and potentiall­y without Suarez, Matias Rojas and Campana, too. Thursday’s win should boost confidence in the locker room.

“I am very proud of the performanc­e by our players,” Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said. “It was a very important win for us because it was a very difficult game in which we had to run a lot, work a lot, suffer a lot. It’s a very valuable three points for us because of the absences we had, and the expectatio­ns people had. This win was a just prize for the great job our players did.”


Much to the dismay of the sellout crowd of 55,000 fans who bought tickets expecting to see Messi play at BC Place, neither he, Suarez nor Busquets made the trip.

Their planned absence was not revealed until Thursday evening. Vancouver fans expressed their displeasur­e on social media leading up to the game, and then booed Inter Miami’s every touch on their opening possession Saturday night.

Martino said he understood the Vancouver ticket buyers’ frustratio­n, but said Suarez, 37, and Messi, who turns 37 in June, could not travel 12 hours round-trip and be expected to play a division game Wednesday and another game Saturday. Busquets, meanwhile, had played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and needed a break, Martino said.

The coach was delighted with the performanc­e of Taylor, Campana and the defense. Vancouver’s only goal was on a Ryan Gauld penalty kick in the 72nd minute after Tomas Aviles was called for a foul in the box against Fafa Picault.


“We knew Robert Taylor would be a decisive player for us, and we ended up winning the game on his side,” Martino said. “We had talked to him about coming inside to be a finisher if he felt comfortabl­e, which he did, and also to use the flanks, which is where he dribbled from to assist on the second goal.”

Campana, meanwhile, has been relegated to the bench behind Suarez much of this season, but has taken advantage of his opportunit­ies the past two games. He scored the game-winning goal against D.C. United last week with his first touch off the bench in the 94th minute and provided the game winner again against Vancouver.

“Leo understand­s his role very well,” Martino said. “He takes advantage of the minutes he gets, he did for 90 minutes [Saturday]. There is a very good chance Luis is going to Copa America with Uruguay, so there are a lot more games for Leo Campana to play, although he is also eligible to go to Copa with Ecuador. He played very well against Vancouver, not just the goal, but his running, his defense, and how he controlled the ball when he had to withstand Vancouver’s pressure.”

The Whitecaps player who gave Miami most trouble was Picault, the 33-year-old Miami native and Haitian-American who grew up in Cutler Bay and played youth soccer at West Kendall, Coral Springs, Weston and Miami Strike Force.

“I have had to face him a lot and I think he is one of the most important wingers that has played in this league,” Martino said. “He is very a disruptive player, and a big reason Vancouver was in the game was because of how he disrupted us in the first half on the left side and then in the second half as a forward.”


Messi and Suarez are spending their weekend off at Inter Miami’s home stadium in Fort Lauderdale watching their sons play for the club academy’s Under 12 team in the inaugural Inter Miami CF Youth Internatio­nal Cup. Messi’s son, Thiago, and Suarez’s son, Benjamin, are teammates, just like their fathers were for years at FC Barcelona and now with Inter Miami.

Messi and Suarez attended their son’s game Friday night against Orlando City U12s, which ended in a 1-1 tie. They escorted the team onto the field, and Messi addressed the crowd of 10,000 that showed up for the tournament opening ceremony and first game.

“Welcome! It’s beautiful to see the stadium like this for this event,” a smiling Messi said into the microphone. “It’s a pleasure to


Inter Miami Cincinnati New York City Columbus New York Toronto Charlott Philadelph­ia D.C.

Orlando City Nashville Atlanta Montreal Chicago

New England Western

10 2 4 34 38 21 10 2 3 33 23 14 8 5 2 26 19 16 6 2 6 24 21 13 6 3 5 23 25 21 7 7 1 22 24 24 6 5 4 22 14 13 4 4 6 18 25 21 4 5 6 18 21 25 4 6 4 16 15 22 3 4 7 16 17 20 3 7 4 13 17 17 3 7 4 13 17 31 2 8 5 11 14 27 2 10 1 7 9 26 W L TPtsGFGA

Real Salt Lake 8 2 5 29 30 17 Minnesota 7 2 4 25 24 17 LA Galaxy 6 2 7 25 27 22 Los Angeles 7 4 3 24 25 19 Austin 6 4 5 23 20 18 Colorado 6 5 4 22 27 26 Vancouver 5 5 4 19 20 17 Houston 5 6 3 18 13 15 Seattle 4 6 5 17 18 18 Portland 4 7 4 16 28 30 St. Louis City 3 4 7 16 20 22 Dallas 3 6 4 13 16 20 San Jose 3 10 2 11 23 34 Sporting K.C. 2 7 5 11 22 26

NOTE: Three points for victory, one point for draw.


Inter Miami 2, Vancouver 1

Philadelph­ia 0, Charlotte 0

Los Angeles 1, Atlanta 0

Nashville 0, Montreal 0

Chicago 1, D.C. United 1

Cincinnati 4, Toronto 3

Columbus 2, Orlando City 0

New York City 1, New England 0

Seattle 2, St. Louis City 1

Real Salt Lake 3, Dallas 3

Minnesota United 3, Colorado 3

Portland 2, Sporting K.C. 1

Austin 1, San Jose 1

L.A. Galaxy 2, Houston 1

Inter Miami


First half—1, Inter Miami Taylor 3 38th minute.

Second half—2, Inter Miami, Campana 4 54th. 3, Vancouver, Gauld 5 (penalty kick) 72nd.

Goalies—Inter Miami, Drake Callender; Vancouver, Yohei Takaoka.

Yellow Cards—Alba, Inter Miami, 20th; Ahmed, Vancouver, 34th; Bright, Inter Miami, 48th; Campana, Inter Miami, 51st; Weigandt, Inter Miami, 60th; Aviles, Inter Miami, 63rd; Schopf, Vancouver, 73rd; Solari, Inter Miami, 90th; Picault, Vancouver, 90th.

have you here at home to enjoy this beautiful experience.”

He went on to say he knows the sacrifices parents make taking their children to training sessions, matches and tournament­s, such as the Youth Internatio­nal Cup, which includes boys and girls U9

 ?? ANNE-MARIE SORVIN USA TODAY Sports ?? Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender deflects a shot attempt on a corner kick in the first half Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
ANNE-MARIE SORVIN USA TODAY Sports Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender deflects a shot attempt on a corner kick in the first half Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
 ?? SIMON FEARN USA TODAY Sports ?? Inter Miami’s Robert Taylor, center right, celebrates after scoring in the first half Saturday night against Vancouver.
SIMON FEARN USA TODAY Sports Inter Miami’s Robert Taylor, center right, celebrates after scoring in the first half Saturday night against Vancouver.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States