The opening night of the 2023 Leagues Cup began in Fort Lauderdale, where Inter Miami beat Cruz Azul 2-1. Robert Taylor put Inter Miami up in the 44th and Cruz Azul’s Uriel Antuna equalized in the 65th. Lionel Messi scored Inter Miami’s winner four minutes into stoppage time to put them top of the South 3 table. “It was like a movie that will play on repeat forever,” Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said of Messi’s late winner.
In South 2, Orlando beat Houston on penalties at Exploria Stadium after drawing 1-1 in regulation. Amine Bassi converted a Dynamo penalty five minutes into first-half stoppage time and Orlando’s Duncan McGuire equalized in the 46th. Houston failed to convert in the opening round of penalties while Orlando went five for five. The Leagues Cup awards a point each for the regulation draw, with the winner on penalties getting another point.
“We just tied them on the road,” Houston coach Ben Olsen said. “You lose a penalty shootout, okay, but you get yourself a point, and you live to fight another day at home against a good team with Santos Laguna coming in. If we win that one, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
Mazatlan won 3-1 at Austin in South 1, going ahead from a 49th minute David Colman goal. Austin’s Diego Fagundez equalized from the penalty spot in the 65th, but Andres Montano returned Mazatlan’s lead in the 67th and Eduard Bello scored in the 88th.
Charlotte has the early lead in South 4, winning at FC Dallas on penalties after coming back to draw 2-2. Dallas’s Bernard Kamungo scored in the 45th with Charlotte’s Karol Swiderski equalizing from the penalty spot in the 61st. Sebastian Lletget put Dallas up again in the 75th with Ben Bender equalizing seven minutes into stoppage time. Dallas failed to convert in the first and second round of penalties while Charlotte went four for four.
“It is very disappointing because it is a game we have to win, especially with the amount of good and clear chances that we had,” FC Dallas coach Nico Estevez said. “We put ourselves in this spot, as we could have controlled this game but now we have to play our next game and depend on other results. It is disappointing to see that we tied a game that we should have won and especially in penalty kicks. We were not as confident when it came to shooting them and it reflected on the field.”
Friday’s 2023 Leagues Cup scheduleconcluded at BC Place, with Leon ahead in West 3 after drawing 2-2 in regulation with Vancouver and winning 16-15 on penalties. Ivan Moreno put Leon up in the 23rd with Vancouver’s Sergio Cordova equalizing in the 44th and scoring again in the 57th. Leon’s Elias Hernandez equalized in the 77th to send the game to the tiebreaker. With both teams failing to convert in the third, fourth, and eight rounds of penalties, Vancouver failed to convert in the 19th round.
Photo by Inter Miami