Lionel Messi's incredible Major League Soccer run continued Wednesday as his Inter Miami squad resumed U.S. Open Cup play, meeting FC Cincinnati in the tournament's semifinal.
The tournament, which includes not only American-based MLS teams but also teams from lower rungs of the soccer pyramid, started in March, months before Messi signed with Inter Miami.
After Inter Miami defeated USLC's Birmingham Legion on June 7, the squad earned the right to play FC Cincinnati in Wednesday's semifinal.
With Cincinnati holding the best record in MLS, and Inter Miami having the worst, it might not have been a surprise to see Cincinnati jump out to a 2-0 lead. But after Inter Miami tied the match with two late goals, both scored by Leonardo Campana, the match headed for extra time.
In the 30 extra minutes, both teams traded goals, setting up a penalty kick shootout.
With Messi converting on Inter Miami's first kick, Miami won the penalty shootout 5-4 to knock FC Cincinnati out of the tournament.
In addition to scoring in the shootout, Messi contributed two assists.
With the win, Inter Miami will host the Houston Dynamo Sept. 26 for the U.S. Open Cup title. The match could net a second title for Messi and Inter Miami since Messi joined the club last month. On Saturday, Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup, a joint tournament between MLS and Liga MX teams in Mexico. Inter Miami won all seven of its matches in the Leagues Cup.
What's remarkable about this run is that Messi has yet to play an MLS game. When Messi's squad takes on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, it will be his first official MLS match.
With 14 matches left in the season, Inter Miami is hoping to get out of last place and get back into contention for a playoff spot. The club is 14 points behind the Chicago Fire for last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
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