In a thrilling Leagues Cup semifinal on Tuesday night at Subaru Park, the iconic left-back of FC Barcelona and the Spain national team, Jordi Alba, made a significant impact by scoring in first-half stoppage time, securing a commanding 3-0 lead against the Philadelphia Union.
Alba’s signature attacking prowess was on display as he elegantly received a through ball from Robert Taylor and orchestrated a classic run behind the Union’s defensive line.
His composed finish sailed past goalkeeper Andre Blake, contributing to the final 4-1 victory. The match also saw early goals from Josef Martínez (3′) and Lionel Messi (20′), while David Ruíz (84′) added another to the visitor’s tally.
Jordi Alba’s breakthrough performance came just two weeks after his debut for the Herons. His signing for the 2024 MLS season, with an option for 2025, marked another addition to the club’s impressive summer acquisitions. Alba joined former Barça teammates Messi and Sergio Busquets, forming a trio of ex-Barça stars in the team.
The Leagues Cup Final, set for August 19th (Saturday), will now feature Inter Miami against Nashville SC. Nashville secured their spot in the final by defeating Liga MX side CF Monterrey with a score of 2-0 on the same evening. This victory also guaranteed Nashville SC a place in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup.
The anticipation leading up to the match was palpable, with Philadelphia Union Chairman Jay Sugarman expressing a sense of excitement about the global viewership the game was likely to attract.
The sold-out Messi game, fueled by the fervent support of the “Sons of Ben” fan group, created unprecedented demand, driving secondary market ticket prices to remarkable levels. Even River End seats, typically priced at $43, soared to over a thousand dollars. The average ticket price of $556 set a new record in Union history.
The aura of Messi extended beyond the stadium, as fans eagerly celebrated the superstar’s presence. Angel Pagan and her family, Union season-ticket holders from Vineland, New Jersey, all donned Messi shirts for the occasion.
Their admiration for Messi was so profound that they named their youngest son Lionel in his honor. Despite the high costs, Pagan upgraded their tickets to get closer to the field, emphasizing the priceless nature of witnessing Messi in action.
Under the guidance of their coach, Jim Curtain, the Philadelphia Union have evolved into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference over the last decade.
Their achievements include clinching their first Supporters’ Shield trophy in 2020 and reaching the MLS Cup finals in the previous season, albeit losing to LAFC. Notably, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant’s investment in the team underscores the Union’s potential.
The arrival of Messi has undoubtedly elevated the level of competition in the MLS. Sugarman likened Messi’s impact to a “match” that ignites the league, highlighting the growth of the league’s fanbase and its promising future. You may also read AMC Stock Movement: Dilution Concerns Drive Shares Down, APE Units Gain.
Inter Miami’s trend of early goals persisted in the Leagues Cup, as they once again found the net shortly after kickoff. Messi’s contribution in doubling Miami’s lead showcased his brilliance, as he unleashed a powerful shot from a remarkable distance of 31.8 meters, catching Union keeper Andre Blake off guard.
In another match, Monterrey faced Nashville SC under the coaching of Fernando Ortiz. Notably, the Spanish midfielder Sergio Canales had a left-footed attempt go wide, and Erick Aguirre struck the post, creating tense moments for both teams.
However, Nashville’s Hamy Mukhtar made an impact with a goal in the 12th minute, only to have it disallowed by Guatemalan referee Walter López. You should also check Zooey Deschanel and Jonathan Scott Share Engaging News.
The Colombian player John Stefan Medina had a shot miss the target early in the second half, while Nashville’s solid defensive stance caused difficulties for Monterrey’s attacks. Lukas Macnaughton’s challenge on Medina in the penalty area was reviewed by VAR and ultimately not deemed a penalty.
Nashville capitalized on Monterrey’s error, with Mukhtar providing an assist to Surridge, who sealed the deal with a clinical finish.
As the match progressed, Nashville adopted a defensive posture to repel Rayados’ onslaught, including shots from Jordi Cortizo and Rogelio Funes Mori, which were well-handled by goalkeeper Elliot Panicco. In the closing moments of the match, Nashville’s Picault secured their victory with a left-footed goal, extending their lead to 2-0.
Looking ahead, the eagerly anticipated final between Nashville and Miami promises to be a spectacle. As the Union battles for the third-place finish against Monterrey, the influence of Messi’s arrival continues to shape the landscape of Major League Soccer, ushering in an exciting era for the sport.