What we learned about Lionel Messi, Inter Miami in their MLS opener

    After 90 minutes of intentional, possession-based play, Inter Miami clinched a 2-0 victory Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., over Real Salt Lake in the Major Soccer League season opener.

    It’s a big result for Inter Miami, especially after the team’s underwhelming preseason tour, and it tells us a lot about how head coach Tata Martino’s team intends to challenge for the MLS Cup. 

    Here are the biggest takeaways from Miami’s win.

    Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are great, but Miami’s attack depends on Robert Taylor. Finnish striker Taylor missed most of Miami’s preseason for tactical reasons — Martino benched him in favor of a two-man attack composed of Messi and Suarez. That duo, though potent in the opening minutes, tended to fade along with Suarez’s legs as the game went on. 

    Martino recognized this and made a conscious shift against Real Salt Lake. He put Suarez at the top of an attacking triangle, with Messi and Taylor flanking him on either side, and the results were impressive from kickoff. It was Taylor who fed most of Miami’s best crosses into the box, and it was Taylor who scored the opening goal. Martino was wrong to doubt him.

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