HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Lionel Messi made his Major League Soccer debut, entering in the 60th minute of Inter Miami’s match at the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner did not participate in warmups and watched the first half from coach Tata Martino’s bench along with midfielder Sergio Busquets, forward Josef Martinez and U.S. national team defender DeAndre Yedlin.
Miami led 1-0 on a 37th-minute goal by Diego Gómez, among four Miami starters making MLS debuts. Sergio Busquets, Messi’s Barcelona teammate, also made his debut in the 60th minute.
Miami entered with an 11-game MLS winless streak that included eight defeats and had just one road victory this season. Miami’s 22 points were the fewest among the league’s 29 teams.
The 36-year-old Messi, who joined MLS from Paris Saint-Germain, played his first Miami game on July 21 in the Leagues Cup and scored 10 goals in seven games in that competition and a U.S. Open Cup semifinal.
The streets around Red Bull Arena were packed 2 1/2 hours before the match, filled with dozens of scalpers and people selling unlicensed Messi jerseys. A simulcast of the game was scheduled on a videoboard in Times Square.
Chants of “We Want Messi!” began in the sixth minute and a loud “Mes-si!” “Mes-si!” reverberated throughout in the 35th.
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