Lionel Messi had to leave last week’s game early due to fatigue and did not play on Wednesday evening. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images) (Hector Vivas via Getty Images)
Houston Dynamo took full advantage of Lionel Messi’s absence on Wednesday evening.
The Dynamo beat Inter Miami 2-1 at the DRV PNK Stadium in South Florida on Wednesday evening to officially win the US Open Cup. It was the second win in the club’s history after winning in 2018. Dynamo dominated the first half while Messi, who has been outstanding since his arrival at the start of the summer, missed another game due to fatigue.
Houston then held on in the second half, securing a one-goal victory late and lifting the trophy, although they had a goal taken off the board after a review.
Griffin Dorsey got Houston on the field first in the 24th minute after breaking free on the right side and firing the ball past Drake Callender into the top corner.
Amine Bassi also scored a penalty less than 10 minutes later after being tackled by DeAndre Yedlin in the penalty area. That gave Houston a 2-0 lead that it held until halftime.
Miami finally managed to avoid the shutout after Josef Martinez put the ball between the legs of Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark in the 91st minute. However, by this point it was too late to tie the game and force overtime.
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said Messi would not take part in the game if it was just a regular-season Major League Soccer match. The US Open Cup final carries more weight and Martino and Messi met before the competition to determine his availability.
After making waves around the world, Messi moved to Inter Miami in June and his impact was immediate. Messi scored nine goals in his first six games with the team, leading them to victory in the League Cup.
Messi and Inter Miami survived a wild game against FC Cincinnati to win 5-4 on penalties last month and reach the US Open Cup final. Messi arrived on Wednesday evening having missed or withdrawn six consecutive games between club and country. He first “felt” something in his leg during Argentina’s victory over Ecuador on September 7th. He also left last week’s game against Toronto FC late in the first half.
A healthy Messi would have gone a long way for Inter Miami on Wednesday night, considering he completely transformed one of MLS’s worst clubs upon his arrival. Without Messi, the club struggled against Houston, which beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 in the semifinals but suffered a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City in MLS play last week.
Follow Yahoo Sports as we provide the latest news, scores and injuries as Inter Miami take on Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup final.