Fans filled into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday with a bittersweet feeling: they could watch their favorite team but would not be treated to a Lionel Messi show.
With the Argentinian star out of action due to fatigue, Atlanta United took advantage of a vulnerable Inter Miami team and won 5-2.
How it unfolded
Miami actually took the lead in the 25th minute when a Dixon Arroyo long distance strike banged off the crossbar. Leonardo Campana controlled the rebound, flicked the ball over the defender and unleashd an unstoppable shot.
Atlanta quickly responded through Tristan Muyumba, whose shot hit the post and trickled past the goal line. It was a moment of tension as VAR checked if the ball had actually crossed the line, but ultimately, without goal line technology, the call was upheld.
Atlanta continued to attack shortly after, forcing a Kamal Miller own goal in the 41st minute before Brooks Lennon put United up 3-1 in the 44th minute with a classy finish.
Miami pulled one back eight minutes into the second half, as Campana earned his brace from the penalty spot.
But the goal wasn’t enough to slow down a vicious Atlanta attack that found two additional goals with Giorgos Giakoumakis and Tyler Wolff in the final stages of the match.
What’s ahead for Miami and Atlanta?
Inter Miami will be praying that Messi is fresh for their next game. They head home to host Toronto, who are in dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta fortified its playoff position with the win, as they now sit in sixth place with a 13 point cushion on the final playoff spot. They’ll face D.C. United on Wednesday.