“The club has been irrelevant for 10 years or so” - Lionel Messi’s opponents receive damning verdict from coach ahead of Inter Miami cup final
All eyes will be on Lionel Messi once again when Inter Miami lock horns with Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup final on Wednesday, September 27. Ahead of the highly-anticipated encounter, Dynamo manager Ben Olsen has provided a damning verdict of his side, stating that they need a renaissance to restore their pride.
Houston Dynamo qualified for the US Open Cup final after beating Real Salt Lake 3-1 in the semifinals back in August. The Houston-based side are set to get some traction as they'll be coming up against Inter Miami and their Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, who has transformed the MLS since arriving in the summer.
With the former Barcelona ace on the pitch, the match will definitely attract a lot of interest, with the stadium guaranteed to sell out and important personalities expected to troop out in numbers. This will, of course, give Dynamo some much-needed attention and their manager Ben Olsen believes they'll need more of it to achieve renaissance as the club has been "irrelevant for ten years or so."
“It’s not exactly that we’re disrespected,” the tactician told U.S. Soccer. “But like we’re invisible. I see it week in and week out. And that’s because the club has been irrelevant for ten years or so.”
“Houston kind of needs a renaissance here to make this club one that people respect and fear,” he added. “Instead of opponents just knowing, ‘oh we have to go to Houston, there’s not gonna’ be a lot of people and it’s gonna be a hundred degrees."
“There’s only one way to do that. Being in Open Cup Finals and raising trophies and putting ourselves in the postseason year after year. That’s the job," the tactician added.
Lionel Messi has made one appearance in the US Open Cup since joining Inter Miami in the summer - in the semi-final triumph over Cincinnati in August. The Argentine was brilliant as usual, bagging two assists in the 3-3 draw and converting from the spot to lead Miami to a 5-4 victory in the shootout.
Lionel Messi leading the race for the 2023 Ballon d'Or award
As it stands, Lionel Messi is the front runner to be named the best player in the world at the Ballon d'Or gala next month. The Argentine emerged as the leader of the race courtesy of his exploits at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where he led Argentina to glory, bagging seven goals and three assists and picking up the Golden Ball.
He will face fierce competition from Manchester City striker Erling Haaland who won the treble last season, contributing 52 goals and nine assists in 53 games. Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is also a major contender for the accolade after impressing at the World Cup where picked up the Golden Boot with eight goals.
The likes of Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski and Julian Alvarez are also among the nominees for the accolade. It remains to be seen how things will pan out at the award ceremony on October 30.