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Miami ratings: Messi magic off the bench in dramatic draw

Miami ratings: Messi magic off the bench in dramatic draw

There are so many things that Lionel Messi can cover up by himself. He can do so many things on the field, even when half-fit, as he is now. Just having him on the pitch changes how games are played, and the moments that define them.

Messi can’t do it all – particularly in a 45-minute cameo off the bench after nearly a month injured.

It took him just 12 minutes to score in his return from injury, with Saturday’s clash with the Colorado Rapids being his first match in over three weeks. With Messi leading the charge, it looked like the Herons were set for three points. They seized the lead on a Leo Afonso finish two minutes after the Argentine found his goal and seemed to be cruising from there. However, a late collapse hindered their plans with the Rapids drawing level in the 88th minute.

The Rapids’ equalizer felt preventable. It came on the counter-attack, one which Miami failed to stop. Cole Bassett provided the finishing touch, leaving Miami with one point on a night where they’ll feel they deserved three.

It’s a familiar theme for Herons, but the good news is that Messi is back and, when fully fit, he’ll be able to change games just like he did on Saturday night. The bad news is that this team still is very, very flawed with much to work out if they want to start turning these draws into big wins.

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Goalkeeper & Defense

Drake Callender (6/10):

Can’t expect him to save a penalty and was a bit helpless on the Rapids’ late goal. Outside of that, was solid, making the saves required of him.

Franco Negri (8/10):

A fantastic game from the veteran fullback. Messi made the most of his pass across the box but, even outside of that, Negri was smooth all night, particularly in the attack.

Ryan Sailor (5/10):

Conceded the penalty just before the half with a sloppy sliding tackle. Was okay other than that, but that isn’t a mistake you’ll be able to get away with.

Noah Allen (6/10):

Won a few big tackles and was certainly active and involved defensively. A very steady performance from the 19-year-old defender, although he could have maybe done better on the Rapids’ late counter.

David Ruiz (8/10):

A good game from the versatile homegrown prospect. Got the assist on the second goal, teeing up Afonso and did plenty of good work defensively. Might have been his most complete performance yet.

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Midfield

Lawson Sunderland (6/10):

Had an okay game, but nothing spectacular. Was taken off at halftime for Messi. Can’t blame Martino for making that sub.

Tomas Aviles (6/10):

Surprisingly listed as a midfielder, Aviles was crisp with his passing and had two shots on goal. Did his thing defensively as well.

Julian Gressel (7/10):

Didn’t quite have the impact that he has in recent weeks, but was still good. Had a few good shots on goal before being taken out early in the second half when Miami started to shake things up.

Attack

Leo Afonso (7/10):

What a moment for the newcomer. A composed finish for his first MLS goal, one that will give him confidence as he goes forward with this star-studded group.

Leonardo Campana (5/10):

Was given the chance to start with Suarez out if the XI, but it didn’t last long enough due to an unfortunate injury. Miami will really be hoping it isn’t serious considering the current number of players overflowing in the medical department.

Shanyder Borgelin (7/10):

Played slightly out of position out wide, but he did so many good things. Was particularly dangerous in the second half once Messi opened up the game a bit.

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Subs & Manager

Diego Gomez (6/10):

Ran and ran and ran, but was way too sloppy on the ball. His giveaway led to the Rapids’ counter which earned them a point.

Lionel Messi (8/10):

Well, he’s Lionel Messi… what did you expect? Came on and made an immediate impact with the goal. Even after, you could see the gravitational pull he has on defenses, which opens up games in ways that Miami can’t even imagine when he isn’t in the XI.

Sergio Busquets (6/10):

Brought in to do what he’s been doing his whole career: run the midfield. Passing was near perfect, but his lack of pace was exposed on Colorado’s equalizer.

Marcelo Weigandt (6/10):

Came on midway through the second half, but didn’t really contribute much.

Jordi Alba (7/10):

Was fantastic as always on the ball, even if he never quite had one of those patented Jordi Alba chances throughout his 20 minutes.

Tata Martino (6/10):

Got his stars rest and then brought them on to change the game. It almost worked, too, and that late goal on the counter will frustrate him all weekend.

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