Lionel Messi almost scored against FC Dallas on a chilly, drizzly Monday night at the Cotton Bowl. Luis Suarez had a few chances. Inter Miami looked sharper overall than it did in its preseason opener against El Salvador’s national team and possessed the ball 69 percent of the time.
But when all was said and done, there was still no goal after the 1-0 loss, following the scoreless tie in San Salvador three nights earlier.
Despite its star-filled roster, Miami has not scored in the first 180 minutes of the 2024 preseason and looks like a team still trying to get its timing down. A disappointed Messi and his teammates trudged off the field in heavy black coats, waving politely at the crowd of 32,211 that braved the weather.
Both teams took eight shots, four on frame for Dallas and three for Miami.
Miami was scheduled to fly home after the game, will train Wednesday, and on Thursday travels to Saudi Arabia for a pair of exhibition games. Then it’s on to Hong Kong and Tokyo for two more matches before finishing the preseason schedule at home Feb. 15 against Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys, the hometown team of Messi and Miami coach Tata Martino.
The regular season kicks off Feb. 21 at home against Real Salt Lake.
Messi, Suarez, and Sergio Busquets stayed on the field 20 minutes longer against Dallas than they did against El Salvador. Instead of coming off at halftime, they remained in the game through the 64th minute before being replaced by Leo Campana, Nico Stefanelli and Gregore. Jordi Alba, the fourth former FC Barcelona player on the roster, played the full 90 minutes.
Miami fell behind in the third minute after a goal by U.S. national team Jesus Ferreira forward on a counterattack. Paul Arriola threaded a diagonal pass toward the right side of the box, and Ferreira got past Miami defenders Noah Allen and Serhiy Kryvtsov for the score.
Messi had one shot blocked by Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes, a volley from distance sail wide, and a dangerous corner kick. Suarez got in scoring position a few times but was unable to finish. David Ruiz also had a chance to score, but didn’t capitalize.
“We are trying to keep as many players up high as we can, in the area, to finish, and we are working to improve that every day,” Ruiz said. “We feel we are prepared, getting minutes in the preseason to get ready for the season ahead.”
Asked about playing alongside Messi, Busquets, Suarez, and Alba, Ruiz said: “I am learning from the way they combine, like they did in Barcelona, how they read each other and how they get to the final third.”
This game was far less dramatic than the Miami-Dallas meeting in the 2023 Leagues Cup, when Inter Miami rallied from down 3-1 and 4-2, tied it late on a Messi goal and then won in a penalty kick shootout.
Coach Tata Martino went with a similar starting lineup Monday as the one he used against El Salvador: Messi and Suarez up top, Busquets in the middle, and Gressel on the right wing with Alba, Allen, Aviles and Yedlin as defenders. Drake Callender returned as goalkeeper from U.S. national team duty. Kryvtsov started in back and Ruiz replaced Benjamin Cremaschi as an attacking midfielder.
Cremaschi did not get into the game. The club did not announce whether he was injured.
This story was originally published January 22, 2024, 9:31 PM.