Messi scores twice as Inter Miami routs Orlando City

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Luis Suarez scored the first two goals of his MLS career and provided the final pass on two more, Lionel Messi added two goals, and host Inter Miami romped to a 5-0 victory over Orlando City on Saturday afternoon.

Robert Taylor added the other goal for unbeaten Miami (2-0-1, 7 points) in what was easily its most lopsided result of the young season. Julian Gressel made the final pass on Suarez’s two goals, both coming inside the opening 11 minutes.

Drake Callender made two saves to keep his second clean sheet for the Herons, who for the first time offered the kind of dominant performance that matched their status as oddsmakers’ MLS Cup favorites.

Pedro Gallese failed to make a save for Orlando (0-1-1, 1 point), which suffered its worst regular-season defeat since a 5-0 loss at New York City FC in late July 2021.

The Lions have now lost two games when Messi plays for the Herons by a seven-goal margin, having fallen 3-1 in the round of 32 of the Leagues Cup back on Aug. 2.

But Orlando had earned a 1-1 draw at home against Miami while Messi was out to injury late last season, and perhaps that contributed to a sense of overconfidence.

And the Herons had been pushed in their first two games, a 2-0 home win over Salt Lake that was within a goal until the 83rd minute and a 1-1 draw at the LA Galaxy that required Messi to score a stoppage-time equalizer.

There was not a similar challenge on Saturday, however. And after struggling to find chances in his first two MLS appearances, Suarez needed only four minutes to register his first goal.

Messi sprayed the ball to Gressel wide on the right wing to start the move, and then Gressel dragged a low cross back across the right corner of the penalty area.

It met Suarez almost behind his run, but he somehow managed to reach his boot back and strike it first time into the top near corner to beat Gallese.

Seven minutes later, Suarez played a stunning give-and-go with Gressel through a handful of Orlando defenders, muscling one off the ball before feeding his teammate and making a vertical run. Gressel got the pass perfect, and Suarez finished in stride to make it 2-0.