Lionel Messi and Inter Miami continue their sprint to the MLS finish line as they take on Nashville SC in domestic action on Wednesday.
Inter Miami sit 12 points back of a playoff spot with 11 games remaining, needing a furious comeback to secure postseason play. Messi has been the catalyst for much of their recent success over the past month, but they will have to prepare for life without him in the coming weeks as they look ahead to his international call-up with Argentina and get rest as well.
Messi came off the bench for his MLS debut last weekend to bag the second goal of a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls, just one step in a long road towards a playoff position.
Nashville represent Messi’s first repeat opponent, as the two played to a 1-1 draw in the Leagues Cup final before Inter Miami won on penalties. Nashville head coach Gary Smith put together a quality game plan that saw Inter Miami hemmed in for large stretches of play, but they came up just short in front of goal.
MORE: All the goals Lionel Messi has scored for Inter Miami — already
The Sporting News is following the Inter Miami vs Nashville SC match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC live score
Inter Miami (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Callender (GK) — 2. Yedlin, 31. Miller, 6. Aviles, 18. Alba — 8. D. Gomez, 5. Busquets, 3. Arroyo (Farias, 46′) — 10. Messi, 9. Campana, 16. Taylor.
Nashville SC (4-2-3-1, right to left): 30. Panicco (GK) — 18. Moore, 5. Maher, 3. MacNaughton, 2. Lovitz — 6. McCarty, 27. Anunga — 19. Muyl, 8. Leal (Shaffelburg, 46′), 7. Picault — 12. Bunbury (Mukhtar, 46′).
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC live updates, highlights, commentary
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: Second Half
46th min: Less than a minute into the second half, Nashville SC catch Inter Miami sleeping on a free-kick, and Hany Mukhtar blasts one over the crossbar from distance! Lookout!
Kickoff: Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith makes two changes, bringing on Hany Mukhtar and Jacob Shaffelburg, two attacking substitutions. He tells the Apple TV broadcast that the first half was “brilliant” but he wants more composure in the final third when they do get the ball.
Gerardo Martino counters by bringing on an attacking midfielder in Facundo Farias in place of defensive midfielder Dixon Arroyo. Taylor Twellman makes a great point on the Apple TV broadcast, speculating that Tata’s introduction of a more attacking presence in midfield probably came expecting Nashville to stay defensive, but the visitors’ addition of two attackers seems contrary to remaining in a low block.
HALFTIME: Inter Miami 0-0 Nashville SC
Inter Miami are clearly frustrated as they end the first 45 minutes scoreless. The hosts held almost all meaningful possession, as Nashville stayed in a very low block, but have almost nothing to show for it, grabbing just three shots and none on target.
Apple TV broadcaster Taylor Twellman made the comment at one point that it felt as if Inter Miami were playing up a man, and that’s hard to disagree with. Walking into the dressing room with empty hands has the Herons furious, as Jordi Alba is seen blasting the ball in frustration, having previously been booked. Tata Martino has to calm this side down at the break.
Only the second time with Messi that #InterMiamiCF has failed to score a first half goal.
— Ian Hest (@IanHest) August 31, 2023
Nashville with some Cumberland catenaccio at Miami tonight, Messi & Co. looking pretty annoyed pic.twitter.com/MLFDwoWXve
— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) August 31, 2023
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: First Half
45+1 min: The game’s first yellow card is shown to Diego Gomez as he produces a studs up tackle which stops Teal Bunbury in transition. Sergio Busquets is then booked for his protests in the aftermath, where he puts his hands right on referee Chris Penso’s chest. Can’t do that! No malice in the interaction at all, but you can’t physically make contact with the official like that.
Ummm….well apparently Jordi Alba was booked, not Busquets? No clue why, Busquets clearly deserved a booking there. Penso clearly reacted angrily to the contact, so it’s not clear why he doesn’t caution Busquets, nor what Alba did to earn one.
43rd min: Chance, Inter Miami! Robert Taylor receives the ball at the penalty spot with his back to goal, and produces a quality turn and shoot. He puts it just wide, but the ball takes a deflection…yet the referee crew doesn’t see that, and gives a goal kick. Inter Miami unlucky not to have a set-piece there.
35th min: Drake Callender collides with Teal Bunbury at the top of the Inter Miami penalty area, coming off his line to make a contested aerial challenge, and he wins it…sorta. It’s an awkward one, but the ball ends up rolling out of play harmlessly for a goal kick.
Bunbury continues for a bit before going down to the turf asking for treatment. He gets up and comes off the field, appearing to be ok.
34th min: Chance, Inter Miami! Robert Taylor gets a feed from Lionel Messi centrally and has a rip 22 yards from goal! He blasts it over, with power but not precision. That’s the best chance so far!
It feels like this entire half has been played in the Nashville half, but Inter Miami have somehow been held to just two shots. They’ve held almost all the meaningful possession, but done essentially nothing with it. Credit to the Nashville SC defenders…so far, at least. It feels like if this continues, an opener is inevitable. Nashville have to somehow relieve the pressure.
26th min: Now it’s Jack Maher’s turn to get credit for good defending on Lionel Messi, as he shields the Argentine brilliantly while he dribbled laterally along the top of the 18-yard box. That could have been a very dangerous moment.
Then moments later Messi feeds in Jordi Alba who looks to be through on goal from a tight angle, but he’s shielded off by Lukas MacNaughton. The Nashville center-backs, without captain Walker Zimmerman, have been excellent thus far.
This paas by Messi. Just a joke.pic.twitter.com/JcGEm2eVZN
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) August 31, 2023
25th min: The DRV PNK Stadium crowd is unhappy as Lionel Messi battles with Lukas MacNaughton to reach a through-ball. The two push and shove trying to reach the ball, but Messi is ultimately called for the foul, which angers the fans.
19th min: Yet another Nashville foul, their fifth of the match to Inter Miami’s one, sees Lionel Messi send the delivery to Sergio Busquets at the far post, but Shaq Moore defends it very well and blocks a sliding Busquets from reaching the ball.
Moments later, Jack Maher draws Lionel Messi’s ire and forces referee Chris Penso to come chat with the two of them.
14th min: Now DeAndre Yedlin is fouled in the attacking third after skinning Randall Leal. The fouls are piling up early for the visitors. The set-piece goes begging for Inter Miami, who are struggling to find space in this tightly packed Nashville setup.
Inter Miami has run into a Nashville SC side that is picking up where it left off in the Leagues Cup final.
The visitors are tightly marking all over the field and squeezing the spaces Inter Miami can play to and through.
— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) August 30, 2023
12th min: There’s been a lid on this game early, but there’s a chance for Inter Miami to create an attacking move as Lionel Messi wins a foul from about 35 yards out, clattered by Brian Anunga. He plays it short, and Nashville defends…whatever that was…well.
9th min: Nashville SC have their first spell of possession in the final third, and a deflected deep cross earns a corner. Josef Martinez clears the initial delivery, and on the recycle, Jack Maher puts one miles over the crossbar.
7th min: Diego Gomez has been fouled a few times already. Tata Martino isn’t terribly pleased as his young midfielder is left flat on his back with a grimace on his face after being chopped by Randall Leal. He receives some treatment and will continue.
4th min: Inter Miami have held the majority of the early possession, and that is expected to be a theme throughout this match. They haven’t done much with it yet, aside from Robert Taylor’s long switch to DeAndre Yedlin at the byline which went out of reach and out of play.
Kickoff: The match is under way! Lionel Messi faces his first repeat opponent as an Inter Miami player, as Nashville SC looks for revenge after the penalty shootout defeat in the Leagues Cup final. They’ll have to do so with a heavily rotated squad, however, with Hany Mukhtar on the bench, amongst other oddities.
Before the game began, Inter Miami captain Lionel Messi and vice-captain DeAndre Yedlin presented the Leagues Cup trophy to the fans, as its their first time back at DRV PNK Stadium since winning the club’s first-ever silverware.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 30, 2023
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more
10 mins to kick: The top storyline tonight is the MLS playoff race. Inter Miami returned to MLS play after the Leagues Cup break needing to close a 14-point gap in 12 matches. After earning three points against the NY Red Bulls last time out, that deficit sits at 11 points between their 14th-place slot and the Chicago Fire in ninth, the last playoff position.
Nashville SC are in the opposite position, sitting seventh in the table and holding a playoff spot, hoping to keep grasp of that. Their 38 points puts them just three adrift of the dicey eighth-place position which results in only a wild card spot, and eight points clear of the first team out. It’s not yet secured for them, especially after being clubbed by Atlanta United last time out.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 30, 2023
20 mins to kick: With Hany Mukhtar sat on the bench for Nashville SC, there’s a further undertone to this match aside from just Inter Miami’s rabid late chase for the MLS playoffs. Lionel Messi can now grab an opportunity to pull closer to the MLS goal scoring leader, as Mukhtar sits atop the standings with 13 goals.
Messi scored his first MLS goal last time out against the NY Red Bulls, but he has very little time to reach the top of the list. Inter Miami have just 11 games remaining in the MLS regular season, and Messi will miss three of those for international duty, according to Tata Martino. That means he has just eight games with which to make up a 12-goal gap. That’s a very tall task, and it might be too tall even for the greatest of all-time.
Messi –> Cremaschi –> MESSI
OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. pic.twitter.com/NzBKniNExm
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 27, 2023
35 mins to kick: For Nashville SC, there’s a huge gap in the announced, as MLS leading goal scorer Hany Mukhtar is only named to the bench. It’s a big call by head coach Gary Smith, who looks to give his star forward some rest in this pivotal playoff match.
Defender Walker Zimmerman misses out, which isn’t surprising as he was cited by U.S. Soccer as a player who was not available for selection in the upcoming September international window due to injury. Also missing from the XI is striker Sam Surridge, with Teal Bunbury in his place. This is a very weak lineup for Nashville overall.
Our XI against the Herons pic.twitter.com/tyZgNHRghG
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) August 30, 2023
45 mins to kick: Lineups are in, and Inter Miami have finally returned to the XI that brought them Leagues Cup glory — almost.
There are two differentiations to the 4-3-3 that Tata Martino established when Lionel Messi had newly arrived, with center-back Serhiy Kryvtsov not appearing in the squad, replaced by Tomas Aviles. It’s unclear whether Kryvtsov is injured, given that he missed the 2-0 victory over NY Red Bulls on Saturday. It was thought at the time, all squad rotation for that game was due to fatigue.
Also, Benja Cremaschi is sat, with Diego Gomez earning the start in midfield. Taylor moves back up to winger after deputizing at full-back the last two games.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) August 30, 2023
1 hour to kickoff: This match tonight will be played at DRV PNK Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which has been Inter Miami’s home since the club’s inception in 2020. However, it has a limited shelf life as such.
Construction began yesterday on Inter Miami’s permanent home, the Freedom Park stadium in downtown Miami. The venue is expected to be completed in time to host the club for the 2025 season, meaning next year will be Inter Miami’s last at DRV PNK.
— PFF FC (@PFF_FC) August 30, 2023
1 hour 15 mins to kick: Lionel Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami has caused celebrities from across the country to flock to wherever the club is playing. Former MLB star Ken Griffey Jr. has been spotted at today’s match, as was boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 30, 2023
1 hour 30 mins to kick: It had been previously reported that Inter Miami duo Benja Cremaschi and Drake Callender were included on the USMNT preliminary roster for the September friendlies against Uzbekistan and Oman, and today they both made the cut for the final 24-man squad. Both players are looking to make their U.S. international debut.
Cremaschi, just 18 years old, is eligible to play for both the United States and Argentina, and surely has Lionel Messi in his ear about the eventual decision he will have to make. Callender, meanwhile, has earned himself a spot with great play for Inter Miami, plus injuries to Sean Johnson and Zack Steffen.
DeAndre Yedlin was also on the preliminary roster, but was not selected for the final group.
#USMNT squad for Sept friendlies announced. 24 players, Gregg Berhalter’s return. It feels like a new beginning.
IN – Pulisic, Balogun, Cremaschi, Callender, Lund, Paredes
OUT (injured) – Reyna, Adams, CCV
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) August 30, 2023
1 hour 45 mins to kick: While there’s plenty of talk around the managing of minutes for Lionel Messi, Inter Miami won’t have to be quite as careful with 34-year-old full-back Jordi Alba, who reportedly has retired from international duty with Spain. He will be able to fully concentrate on his club football moving forward — a boon for the MLS side.
Breaking: Inter Miami defender Jordi Alba has retired from international football with Spain, sources have confirmed to ESPN. pic.twitter.com/PlYGvEqCCH
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 29, 2023
2 hours to kickoff: Lionel Messi played just 30 minutes off the bench against the New York Red Bulls last time out, so he’s rested and ready to go for today. He will, however, have to miss at least three Inter Miami games in the near future for international duty, as Major League Soccer does not pause during the international breaks.
That will put pressure on the rest of the squad to perform in his absence, knowing every result matters in their mountainous climb for a playoff spot. However, Inter Miami can at least take some solace in the fact that, if Tata Martino is to be believed, MLS will change this moving forward, making a long-awaited alteration to its playing schedule next season.
🗣 Tata Martino on Lionel Messi’s possible absence from the starting XI vs. RBNY:
“It is inevitable that we will not have him at some point. … This will happen at least three times this year, and next year more.
— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) August 25, 2023
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC lineups & team news
While Inter Miami’s lineup was easy to predict throughout Leagues Cup play, Gerardo Martino has finally been forced to rotate his squad and thus it’s hard to know quite where certain players will earn rest, and where other young players might secure additional minutes.
Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets start, as Tata Martino said on Tuesday during his pre-match media availability. At the head of the attack, it looked as if Leonardo Campana had supplanted Josef Martinez as the striker of choice, but today it’s the latter who gets the start.
The biggest question for Tata Martino here was his midfield, with a number of players in good form. Benji Cremaschi and Dixon Arroyo were regulars during the Leagues Cup, but the performances of youngsters Diego Gomez, David Ruiz, and Facundo Farias have given him decisions to make. Here, it’s Gomez who earns a spot, with Cremaschi on the bench.
Inter Miami starting lineup (4-3-3): Callender (GK) — Alba, Miller, Aviles, Yedlin — Cremaschi, Busquets, Arroyo — Messi, Campana, Taylor.
Inter Miami subs (9): Dos Santos (GK), McVey, Allen, Ulloa, D. Ruiz, Cremaschi, Farias, Campana, Stefanelli.
Surprisingly, MLS leading goal scorer Hany Mukhtar was rested from the start by Nashville SC, replaced by Randall Leal in the lineup.
There are some significant injury concerns for Nashville, most notably to defender Walker Zimmerman who has missed the last few matches and only just returned to training doing individual work. Same with striker Sam Surridge who also, like Zimmerman, has some form of undisclosed lower body injury. Midfielder Nick DePuy is out for the season with an Achilles injury.
The duo of Fafa Picault and Taylor Washington will return from suspension for this game after missing the match against Atlanta over the weekend.
Nashville SC starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Panicco (GK) — Moore, Maher, MacNaughton, Lovitz — McCarty, Anunga — Muyl, Godoy, Picault — Bunbury.
Nashville SC subs (9): Willis (GK), Washington, Bauer, Haakenson, Godoy, Davis, Mukhtar, Zubak, Shaffelburg.
How to watch Inter Miami vs Nashville SC
Inter Miami vs Nashville SC betting odds & lines
Inter Miami are heavy favorites in this match, especially considering how tightly these two played just over a week prior. Yet given the injuries to Nashville, and their 4-0 defeat to Atlanta over the weekend, it’s understandable that some of their luster has disappeared.
to score Y / N
|Over / Under
|-165||+320||+380||-155 / +110||-175 / +120||-185||+125|
|1.48||4.58||5.66||1.64 / 2.28||1.61 / +124||1.54||2.44|
|Top Betting Sites
|15/8||23/10||13/10||5/6, 5/6||11/10, 4/6||—||—|
|1.52||4.35||5.60||1.68 / 2.12||1.58 / 2.35||—||—|
|1.60||4.30||5.20||1.70 / 2.12||—||—||—|