Inter Miami, without Lionel Messi and his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba, faced a challenging match against an enterprising Houston Dynamo team in the U.S. Open Cup final. Unfortunately, they couldn’t muster a strong performance and had little room to complain about the final outcome.
While co-owner David Beckham, alongside former Real Madrid colleague Zinedine Zidane, had hoped for another night of celebration after their Leagues Cup victory the previous month, Miami lacked intensity and creativity. They struggled against Ben Olsen’s impressive Houston team.
Messi’s absence due to an undisclosed injury, described as “muscle fatigue” and referenced as “scars” from an old injury by coach Gerardo Martino, left Miami without their star player. This absence allowed Houston to control the game from the beginning, confidently moving the ball with purpose. With only Sergio Busquets of their former Barcelona trio on the field, Miami couldn’t establish a foothold.
Houston took the lead in the 24th minute through a well-executed counter-attack, with Brazilian Artur setting up Griffin Dorsey for a near-post strike. Houston continued to dominate, leaving Miami struggling to keep up.
In the 2-0 lead, Houston displayed swift passing that left Miami chasing shadows. Colombian winger Nelson Quinones then ventured into the box from the left flank, and a desperate challenge by Miami right-back DeAndre Yedlin led to a penalty. French forward Amine Bassi converted it confidently, extending Houston’s lead.
Miami coach Gerard Martino made two halftime substitutions, bringing in Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez and Ecuadorean midfielder Dixon Arroyo. Martinez had a chance to narrow the deficit with a header, but it went wide. Benjamin Cremaschi forced Dynamo’s keeper, Andrew Tarbell, into a low save, but Houston remained in control.
While Miami pressed for a goal, Houston appeared to seal the contest with a goal from Quinones, assisted by Bassi. However, the VAR review ruled it out for offside. Martinez provided a glimmer of hope for Miami with a late left-footed strike in stoppage time, set up by Argentine Facundo Farias.
Despite the late effort, Miami’s comeback fell short, and Houston deservedly secured their second U.S. Open Cup victory, adding to their 2018 triumph. Miami, which had won the Leagues Cup with Messi playing a prominent role, now faces uncertainty about their Argentine star’s fitness as they strive to make the Major League Soccer playoffs.