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Inter Miami smacked by St. Louis in final match before Lionel Messi era begins

Inter Miami’s last match without Lionel Messi ended the same way it has 13 other times this season: a loss.

The Argentine superstar signed his contract with the club Saturday afternoon, but did not play as his teammates hobbled their way to a 3-0 loss at St. Louis City.

It was also Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s first match as head coach. His new team hasn’t won a match since May 13, an 11-game winless streak.

Inter Miami sleepwalked through the first half and fell behind 2-0. Second-half substitutions proved beneficial, but familiar Miami attacking-third woes were still present.

Martino didn’t have homegrown midfielder David Ruiz in his first starting lineup as he serves a one-game suspension from yellow-card accumulation. However, Kamal Miller returned after fulfilling his Canadian national team duties and Robbie Robinson also started after missing last week’s match with an injury. Forward Nicolas Stefanelli was not available after leaving last Saturday with an injury.

St. Louis won three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes, but all were well-defended by Miami.

Two of the next three St. Louis corners were a different story. St. Louis scored twice in 12 minutes, both a result of poor zonal marking.

In the 28th minute, St. Louis forward Samuel Adeniran made it 1-0 off a clean header into the bottom left corner. Then, defender Tim Parker also scored off a header that banked off the far post in the 40th minute.

Martino made two halftime substitutions, bringing in forward Leonardo Campana and defender DeAndre Yedlin, who was also away from the team serving national team duties. It brought some energy to the Miami side after the sleepy first half.

Miami nearly scored eight minutes into the half when an Ian Fray one-timer was put on target. Video review was needed to confirm that St. Louis goalkeeper Roman Burki made the save before the ball crossed the line. Then, Fray put another shot on net two minutes later on a low strike to the left corner from outside the penalty area. Josef Martinez and Campana also created scoring chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half as they shared striker duties.

St. Louis sat back defensively in the final 20 minutes, but also challenged on the counterattack a handful of times.

Miller committed a hard foul just outside the Miami penalty area, resulting in a St. Louis free kick in the 80th minute. Midfielder Eduard Lowen perfectly unleashed a shot over a wall of Miami defenders and the fingertips of goalkeeper Drake Callender and into the back corner of the net.

Inter Miami is now 5-14-3 and still in last place in the Eastern Conference. St. Louis remains atop the Western Conference at 14-8-2.

Major League Soccer will put its season on a one-month pause with the Leagues Cup beginning next week. Messi will be available next Saturday at DRV PNK Stadium against Cruz Azul.

Rodolfo Pizarro’s contract mutually terminated

In order to make room on the roster for Messi, somebody needed to leave, and it’s Rodolfo Pizarro.

The midfielder occupied one of the three designated player spots that was officially freed up Friday night. Martinez and Gregore currently occupy the other two designated player spots.

Pizarro joined Inter Miami in 2020 and was one of Major League Soccer’s biggest signings. However, his play never lived up to expecations. In 59 games, Pizarro tallied seven goals and nine assists.

Pizarro is said to be joining AEK Athens.

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