Lionel Messi finally had an off night — by his standards — as Inter Miami CF was held to a 0-0 draw by Nashville SC at DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Argentina star had played nine games for Miami since joining MLS in July, and all nine had resulted in wins — six from the run of play and three via a penalty shootout across Leagues Cup, U.S. Open Cup and MLS matches.
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But on Wednesday, Messi’s magical left boot failed to produce a decisive goal after finding the net 11 times in his first nine matches, and Miami dropped points in its long-odds quest to reach the MLS playoffs.
It was the first time Miami was held scoreless since Messi’s arrival.
Messi started the game Wednesday along with former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets after the two entered Miami’s previous match against the New York Red Bulls in the 60th minute.
Miami had no shots on goal through the first 60 minutes as the team struggled to break through 7th-placed Nashville’s defense.
Messi attempted a free kick in the 60th minute after drawing a foul on Nashville’s Dax McCarty, but the shot to the bottom-left corner was stopped by Elliot Panicco.
Still, Inter Miami fans took out their phones to record the free kick, just in case the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner delivered another goal similar to the one in his debut — when he scored in the 94th minute to give Miami a win over Mexican Club Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup opener.
Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar then had a goal erased by an offside call in the 69th minute.
Messi got another chance in the 83rd minute, but the shot bounced off the wall of defenders.
The two teams met 10 days ago in the Leagues Cup final. Messi scored early in regulation and converted the first shot in penalty kicks, and Miami won after an 11-round penalty kick shootout for its first ever trophy.
Messi and Inter Miami players posed with co-owner Jorge Mas on the field Wednesday with the Leagues Cup trophy for the first time in front of their home fans.
The draw leaves Miami on 22 points with 10 games to play, 10 points behind the final playoff spot currently occupied by the Chicago Fire. Messi and company will travel to BMO Stadium this weekend for a match against defending MLS Cup champions LAFC on Sunday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.