Lionel Messi sits out as Inter Miami holds Orlando City to draw

September 24, 2023, 10:49 PM

Duncan McGuire scored his ninth goal of the season midway through the second half to lift host Orlando City to a 1-1 draw against short-handed Inter Miami on Sunday night.

The goal helped Orlando remain unbeaten in five all-time meetings at home against Miami, after Orlando clinched its spot in the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs midweek despite a loss at New York City FC.

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McGuire's leveler canceled out David Ruiz's first goal for Inter Miami, which came without Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

Messi was held out because of a scar tissue problem and Alba because of muscle pain. Busquets, the third of the former Barcelona teammates, was rested with an eye toward the U.S. Open Cup final at home on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo.

Orlando (14-7-9, 51 points) led Miami 13-9 in total shots and 6-5 in efforts on target, numbers that were less dominant than might have been expected given those absences.

Miami (9-15-5, 32 points) remained in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with the result, but only five points behind New York City FC for the ninth and final playoff berth with two games in hand.

Both NYCFC (37 points) and 10th-place D.C. United (36 points) have played two more league matches than the Herons, who are hoping Messi and Alba will regain their health for the stretch run.

After Orlando had the better of the first half, Miami took the lead early in the second on an attack that began when Dixon Arroyo made an interception in midfield and found Leonardo Campana with a through ball.

Campana pushed the ball further forward to Josef Martinez, whose low shot from the left side of the penalty area forced goalkeeper Pedro Gallese into a diving stop.

Ruiz was first to the rebound and drove his finish into an open net before Gallese could regain his position.

McGuire's leveler also began with a turnover in midfield, before Dagur Thorhallsson, Martin Ojeda and Wilder Cartagena all connected.

Finally, Ojeda slipped a ball that deflected slightly off a Miami defender into the slicing run of McGuire, who slotted his low finish between Drake Callender's legs.