Messi, Súarez score twice as Inter Miami routs Orlando City 5-0


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The scoring artistry that Lionel Messi and Luis Súarez showcased often during their six years in Barcelona was on full display again Saturday. Inter Miami hopes it’s a sign of repeated performances.

Messi and Súarez scored two goals each and Inter Miami routed Orlando City 5-0.

Messi had consecutive goals during a quick span early in the second half.

The 37-year-old Súarez became the latest ex-Barcelona teammate to join Messi at Inter Miami and made an immediate impact in his third MLS match. Suárez also had two assists.

“He knows everything about me, and I think we will continue to do so,” Suárez said of excelling with Messi again. Former Barcelona stars and Messi teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba also are in their first full MLS season with Inter Miami after joining Messi last summer.

“Those guys aren’t here to put their feet up,” Julian Gressel said. “We’ve seen it over the last few weeks. They’re trying to do everything for the team to win. Tonight is a really good example of that.”

With a prolific career that has resulted in 381 club goals over 19 seasons, Suárez scored his first two in the MLS within a seven-minute sequence early in the first half.

Robert Taylor scored the fifth goal and Gressel had two assists for Inter Miami (2-0-1, 7 points), which is unbeaten for the first time through its first three games in club history. Orlando City dropped to 0-1-1.

Inter Miami fans were barely settling in when Suárez struck four minutes into the match. Messi initiated the strike as his long pass found an open Gressel on the right wing. Gressel then centered to an open Suárez, who one-timed a shot inside the right post.

The combination of Gressel and Suárez clicked again seven minutes later. From the left wing, Gressel sent another crossing pass to Suárez. Suárez beat defender Wilder Cartagena to the ball, dribbled into the large area and converted past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese from 12 yards.

Suárez turned distributor for Taylor’s goal in the 29th minute. Suárez’s cross from the right wing found an open Taylor against an unsuccessful offside trap by the Orlando City backline. Taylor tapped in a 15-yard shot.

“I try my best every time I’m out on the pitch,” Suárez said. “Today we did a really good job and I hope the Miami fans are happy.”

Messi joined the scoring onslaught with his first goal in the 57th minute. Suarez’s shot deflected off the crossbar and an unmarked Messi easily tapped in the shot inches from the goal line.

Suarez’s centering pass from the left wing found an open Messi, whose header in the 62nd minute closed the scoring.

“Very satisfied with our performance,” Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said. “Everyone played well. Suárez was fantastic not only with his goals but with the assists. We also preserved the shutout, which is very important.”

Tensions escalated when Suárez exchanged words with Orlando players as they walked off the field for the halftime break.

Saturday began a month of seven matches for Inter Miami while Argentina also has called Messi for two exhibitions during a four-day stretch later in March.

Martino said Friday that Messi’s playing time will be carefully monitored. Messi played the entire match Saturday and Suárez was replaced in the 67th minute.

In addition to five league matches, Inter Miami will face Nashville SC in a home-and-home set of the CONCACAF Nations Cup round of 16. Argentina will play El Salvador on March 22 and Costa Rica on March 26 as precursors to Copa America later this summer.

Shortly before Saturday’s kickoff, Jaime Herrera replaced Guiherme Ceretta as center referee after photos of Ceretta on social media created a possible conflict of interest.




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