He suspected his 8-year-old son, Santino, would be so happy when he got up in the morning.
“He’s probably going to be like, ‘I can’t believe you scored against Messi,'” Bedoya told reporters with a short, sneering smile in mixed territory after the match. “Even though he used to tell me Messi would score. Messi is his favorite player. You know, he’s at that age… Kids say the saddest things.”
Spreading such marginalized talk from within their own family is just one small example of the multi-layered difficulties the federation faced against Messi and Miami. Although the Argentine scored again, this time a curling rope into the side netting from about 36 yards, his longest-range goal since 2012, the Heron didn’t require an overwhelming performance from the goats to cruise past. The defending Eastern Conference champions to the League Cup final, as they visit the Nashville club at Jeudice Park on Saturday (9 p.m. ET | MLS Season Pass).
“It’s not easy to say now. I think we were a little afraid of the names Miami had,” Philly playmaker Daniel Gazdag said. “Obviously they have a good team now. But they are no better than us [by] Three goals.
more than Messi
Even after getting an astonishingly powerful strike into the third-minute tally by Josef Martinez, the first strike of a terrifying first half for the hosts, Fili posed real questions to the Heron. “It could have been a different game,” said Drake Callender to deny Gazdag a one-on-one just minutes after Martínez’s shot – “I should have scored that; it would have been a different game” – and Al Ittihad ended the night with a markedly superior score. One of Mamie’s expected targets.
It doesn’t matter. With additional goals from Jordi Alba and a young David Ruíz, plus consistent performances across the XI, this was a night that showed how much more IMCF is there than just Messi – how exponentially he and his friends Alba and Sergio Busquets have risen. Their new team, how quickly coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino implemented a cohesive team.
Leo, Joseph, they usually share [in the goals]Martino said after the game. “There is progress, because Benga [Cremaschi] Recently scored today David was coming from behind to score, Jordy as a defender scores. And I think that’s important for any team.
“It is true that the team has changed, but it is also true that the roster has changed. Today we have a much more competitive roster that creates problems for the coach when it comes time to choose the team.”
Having perhaps the greatest player of all time in your colors provides an immeasurable psychological boost, and having two elite teammates from FC Barcelona’s power days boosts the levels even further.
“I’ve changed a lot,” said Ruiz. “Everyone has a winning mentality, everyone is ready to play every tournament, win every match and every final.
“They are players who are obviously just trying to give advice,” he explained of the influence of the former Barcelona trio. “We, guys and such, are trying to run all over the place. That’s something they just told us, ‘OK, just keep your position, and the ball’s going to get to you. Stop running to get the ball so much where you’re cornering yourself — things like that.”
The Herons remain bottom of the MLS standings, and a daunting task of redemption awaits in the coming weeks to book postseason football. But the League Cup turned out to be a perfect blank slate, the first step in the club’s radical mid-season reinvention.
“We saw the opportunity in the League Cup to be kind of like a fresh start. It’s not about playing the league, but it’s an opportunity to play well and win games and do well and lift the trophy,” Callender said. A perfect combination for us to do well.
“They are just top professionals, and everything they do is driven to perform and win games. They are also good people. Yes, they are new players, but I feel they have integrated with the culture really well. So I think their confidence and the way they play, their convictions and the decisions they make on and off the pitch I helped the guys realize like, Dan, this is a big opportunity.”
“They only spread confidence.”
Meanwhile, did the Union – one of MLS’ elite teams for the past four years – pick a bad night for a bad night? Or is there a mental block creeping into the heads of Miami’s opponents as their winning streak drags on? They, like the recent IMF victims, will think so.
“Give up goals we shouldn’t have. You were penalized for that, and they felt humiliated,” said Union coach Jim Curtin. “This is a very good Miami team, no doubt about it, they have a lot of talent. But we’re disappointed in general because we didn’t get our best in the first half in particular, and once you lose 3-0 against a good opponent it’s going to be tough.”
As positive results accumulate in Miami, their collective confidence in the snow increases, and their reputation among enemies grows, creating a cumulative momentum that can keep their fortunes incredibly reversing.
“The whole team’s complexion has changed incredibly,” said Bedoya of Heron. “Just talking to the youth, Cremaschi is a great talent, he played for the same youth club as me too, Weston [FC]so I was just talking to him and he admits how much everything has changed – the aura.
“When you have guys of that caliber, they exude confidence. And you can see everyone’s confidence building up,” he says [Robert] Taylor, look at all these other guys, I mean, look crazy.”
Said Gazdag: “[Miami] It will be dangerous for everyone. They have changed a lot since new players came in and they got a new coach as well. You can see the way they defend, the defensive way they play now, it’s much better than before. It is not easy to separate them. So I think they have a good team and they can go far if they participate in the playoffs.
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