Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy score, result, highlights as Lionel Messi scores late equalizer, first goal of 2024

Inter Miami struggled throughout their first road trip of the 2024 MLS season, but they leaned on their Argentine superstar when the going got tough.

The LA Galaxy pummeled Inter Miami for much of their home opener, and led late through Dejan Joveljic’s opener with 15 minutes to go, but Lionel Messi’s first goal of the season in stoppage time snatched a share of the points in a 1-1 draw from Dignity Health Sports Park.

The opening 45 minutes saw the Galaxy totally dominate, missing a host of chances to make good on their pressure and go in front. Drake Callender made two sensational saves on Riqui Puig, including one from the penalty spot. New signing Joseph Paintsil was electric in the counter-attack, but he and Puig couldn’t find the finishing touch.

Finally, in the 75th minute, they grabbed the lead through Joveljic, but it wouldn’t last long. Mark Delgado was sent off for a second yellow card, and given new life, Messi combined brilliantly with Jordi Alba to secure the late equalizer 92 minutes in and peg the Galaxy back.

The Sporting News is following the Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy match live, providing score updates, commentary, and highlights as they happen.

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy final score

  Score (HT) Goal scorers
LA Galaxy 1 Joveljic (75′)
Inter Miami 1 Messi (90+2′)

Kickoff: 9:10 p.m. ET / 6:10 p.m. PT
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, CA)
Referee: Gabriele Ciampi

Starting lineups (predicted):

LA Galaxy (4-3-3, right to left): 77. McCarthy (GK) — 2. Yamane, 22. Caceres, 4. Yoshida, 3. Aude — 8. Delgado (red card, 89′), 10. Puig, 20. Cerrillo, — 28. Paintsil (Aguirre, 87′), 9. Joveljic (Berry, 87′), 7. Fagundez (Pec, 70′).

Inter Miami (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Callender (GK) — 2. Yedlin, 6. Aviles, 27. Kryvtsov, 18. Alba — 24. Gressel (Borgelin, 84′), 5. Busquets, 20. D. Gomez (Sunderland, 84′) — 10. Messi, 9. Suarez (Campana, 67′), 16. Taylor (D. Ruiz, 67′).

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy post-match analysis

Riqui Puig and Joseph Paintsil are a real force for LA Galaxy

They struggled to finish chances as Drake Callender stood tall on multiple occasions, but Joseph Paintsil looks a quality offseason addition to finally give Riqui Puig some help in the attacking third so he doesn’t have to carry the entire load himself.

Puig was sensational on the counter-attack, and Paintsil was dangerous too, although the Ghanan wasted a number of chances with poor efforts on goal in both decision and execution. Still, the two look as if they will cause problems for the Western Conference throughout 2024 regardless of whether they dominate possession or play on the break.

However, it has to be mentioned that Paintsil’s finishing really let the Galaxy down in this match. He would do so well to create great scoring opportunities, and then waste the chances. He took seven shots worth just 0.37 xG, and his inefficiency is a big reason why the hosts failed to end up with all three points.

Sergio Busquets is cooked

While playing for Barcelona, Sergio Busquets was one of the best defensive midfielders to ever play football. Unfortunately, he’s no longer remotely the same player, and he presents a real problem for Inter Miami’s midfield.

Busquets, now 35 years old, was putrid in tonight’s match, and he was quite poor in the opener against Real Salt Lake too. He is late to everything, and it’s resulting in giveaways, fouls, and transition opportunities for the opponent.

Tata Martino has to figure out some way to give Busquets some defensive help in midfield, because he’s being run over in midfield.

MLS teams cannot let Lionel Messi hang around

The LA Galaxy should have won this match, plain and simple. Yet as the game dragged on and they failed to finish their chances, things got dicier and dicier. The opener in the 75th minute only added a sense of urgency to Inter Miami’s final 15 minutes, and it only exacerbated their intrepid push for a goal.

Lionel Messi is a consistent goal threat, especially up a man, and these two points dropped fall squarely on the shoulders of the Galaxy forwards who could not give the team a bigger margin for error knowing who is on the other side.

It’s the first of many goals for Messi this season surely, but if opponents can build a bigger cushion, they will know conceding to the greatest of all time won’t hurt the eventual result. Here, however, the Galaxy couldn’t do just that, and Messi’s moment of magic proves critical.

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy live updates, highlights, commentary

FULLTIME: LA Galaxy 1-1 Inter Miami

All the missed opportunities for the LA Galaxy come back to haunt them as Lionel Messi’s first goal of the 2024 MLS season shares the points, cancelling out Dejan Joveljic’s 75th minute opener.

Opponents this season will know they cannot give Messi an opportunity to hang around, as the Galaxy put up over 3.0 expected goals but failed to finish their chances.

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy: Second Half

90+2 min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! LIONEL MESSI HAS HIS FIRST GOAL OF 2024! It’s a delicious combination of play with Jordi Alba, as the two ping it back and forth in the 18-yard box before Messi finishes from eight yards out!

89th min: Chance, Inter Miami! Lionel Messi misses! Jordi Alba feeds a pullback to the top of the 18-yard box to his talisman, and Messi rips a left-footed curler that skitters just wide of the near post! You’d expect him to finish that chance with lots of space to shoot!

Seven minutes of added time are shown, which is quite a long time for the hosts to defend with a man disadvantage.

88th min: RED CARD, LA GALAXY! Marco Delgado has been sent off for a second yellow card! He’s booked for a bad, late tackle on Sergio Busquets, and it takes the referee a long time to realize that it’s his second, having been given a truly absurd yellow card for kicking away a ball on the touchline to “delay” a restart. The finish of this match will be very interesting, indeed!

82nd min: Diego Gomez is now down on the pitch requiring treatment after Joseph Paintsil blazes a shot over the bar. They’re working on his right hamstring, and he needs to be replaced. Lawson Sunderland and Shanyder Borgelin will both come on, entering for Gomez and Julian Gressel.

75th min: GOAL! LA GALAXY! Finally the breakthrough for the hosts! Riqui Puig has a hit from the top of the arc, and forces a diving save from Drake Callender. He can only tap the ball to his left and Mark Delgado, who crosses right past the face of Callender to Dejan Joveljic all alone at the far post for the easiest tap-in of his life. The Galaxy have been looking for the opener, and they finally get it!

There’s a VAR check for offside, but no dice, and it’s a confirmed goal. There’s also an injury in the aftermath, with Julian Aude down and asking for a change, meaning the Galaxy will need to make a substitution. He’s holding his left hamstring, and exits in favor of new signing John Nelson, coming over from St. Louis City SC.

71st min: There’s a huge penalty shout for the LA Galaxy as a shot by Joseph Paintsil strikes the arm of Sergio Busquets from point-blank range, but the calls are waved away! The right arm of Busquets is out to his side, and the ball clatters into his forearm. Somehow, incredibly, a criminally quick VAR check waves play on. How is that not a longer review, for what appears to be quite an obvious penalty?? Very confusing!

69th min: Chance, Inter Miami! Lionel Messi has his first chance from a dead-ball situation, from about 26 yards out, after a foul by Edwin Cerrillo. Messi’s effort is into the wall, but deflects right to Serhiy Kryvtsov, who taps it to Diego Gomez on the doorstep. The Paraguayan rips a shot but John McCarthy is there to make a wonderful save! Both goalkeepers are starting tonight!

The LA Galaxy make their first substitution, with new signing Gabriel Pec coming on to replace Diego Fagundez.

66th min: Chance, LA Galaxy! Miki Yamane hits the woodwork! It’s a cross not a shot, but his delivery from the end line completely fooled Drake Callender, and it strikes the near post, a very dangerous chance as the goalkeeper was wrong-footed and off balance.

Inter Miami make a pair of changes, as Luis Suarez limps off in favor of Leonardo Campana, and David Ruiz replaces Robert Taylor. Both moves are positive substitutions by Tata Martino.

64th min: The LA Galaxy want a penalty for a push by Julian Gressel into the back of Dejan Joveljic on a set-piece. There’s clearly two hands to the back of Joveljic, but the Galaxy striker flings himself into the air, which takes away from his case. Play is waved on after a VAR check, and no penalty is awarded, which is the right call. If Joveljic had gone down without trying to sell it so dramatically, he might have had a more convincing argument.

55th min: Chance, LA Galaxy! There’s a dangerous set-piece for the LA Galaxy is coming as Joseph Paintsil, who’s been electric in the final third, is hacked by Robert Taylor. The delivery is absolutely glorious from Diego Fagundez, and it falls right on a platter for Martin Caceres, but Drake Callender gets there just barely in time, obliterating Caceres but getting a touch on the ball.

51st min: Now Jordi Alba is booked for dissent. This replacement referee is feelin bold.

47th min: Chance, Inter Miami! JOHN MCCARTHY KICK SAVE, A BEAUTY! Diego Gomez forces the stop right on the edge of the six-yard box, but the LA Galaxy goalkeeper is called upon for the first time tonight, and he stands tall to the task!

Kickoff: The match is back under way, and almost immediately Marco Delgado of the Galaxy is booked for…delaying the restart? He barely touched the ball while out of touch, that’s so silly.

HALFTIME: LA Galaxy 0-0 Inter Miami

The LA Galaxy dominated the first 35 minutes of the first half, pummeling the Inter Miami net to the tune of 1.71 xG, but with no return. Riqui Puig was twice denied by sensational Drake Callender saves, including one from the penalty spot and another which saw Puig’s effort turned off the crossbar.

The hosts will consider themselves extremely unlucky not to be two goals in front, but they faded as the half came to a close. Puig andn Joseph Paintsil have been deadly on the counter, and they will likely look to continue that in the second half.

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy: First Half

45+1 min: Oh dear, Luis Suarez completely bungles a point-blank chance, as he stumbles before getting a shot off on John McCarthy’s net despite nobody anywhere close to him to challenge. Thankfully for Suarez, his embarrassment is somewhat saved by the fact that Jordi Alba was miles offside, so the flag goes up and the chance wouldn’t have counted regardless. Still…yikes.

29th min: Chance, LA Galaxy! DRAKE CALLENDER SAVES INTER MIAMI AGAIN! He deflects a Riqui Puig shot off the crossbar! It’s a sensational stop from what seemed like a sure goal!

After he gets up off the turf, Callender screams in Lionel Messi’s direction for losing out to Edwin Cerrillo on the 50/50 ball that led to the chance, which is just the funniest thing.

25th min: Chance, LA Galaxy! Drake Callender saves a powerful effort by Joseph Paintsil! It comes from a tight angle as the new Galaxy signing finds a small window, and he rips a shot on goal which Callender turns away with both palms.

18th min: The Galaxy are pummeling Inter Miami’s penalty area, as they feed balls in from the left. The first one is cleared by Tomas Aviles, while the second is turned away by Jordi Alba. They both required last-ditch clearances with Galaxy attackers lurking.

Already over 1.5 xG for the Galaxy, including the penalty, but no goals just yet.

11th min: Penalty, LA Galaxy! Joseph Paintsil is dragged down as he latches onto a Riqui Puig vertical ball, and the referee points to the spot! Sergio Busquets is put into a blender by Paintsil, and he drags the Ghanan back by the shoulder. It’s the right call! Following the decision, Julian Gressel is shown a yellow card for dissent as Puig steps up to take the spot-kick…

The penalty is…SAVED BY DRAKE CALLENDER! The Inter Miami shot-stopper holds his ground as long as he possibly can, and Puig opens up his hips to fire his effort to his own right. Callender sees it, tracks it, and dives to his left to make the stop. What a job by the U.S. national teamer!

Kickoff: They’re under way in Los Angeles! Lionel Messi looks for his first goal of 2024, Inter Miami gun for the season’s first winning streak, and the Galaxy look to start their campaign off on the right foot. Who will emerge successful?

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more

15 mins to kickoff: There’s a TON of pink in the stands at Dignity Health Sports Park tonight! Lionel Messi draws like nobody else in MLS. Kickoff is just around the corner!

30 mins to kickoff: This is a very special day for David Beckham, who played for seven years with the LA Galaxy, changing the landscape of MLS in the process. Lionel Messi wouldn’t be here without Beckham paving the way, and now he returns to his old home for the first time as an opponent.

45 mins to kickoff: The lineups are out, and both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are in the Inter Miami XI for this lengthy road trip on short rest. Had this come later in the season, it might be a moment for Tata Martino to give his aging stars rest, but since it’s just the second match of the year, they are both deployed.

For the LA Galaxy, Joseph Paintsil debuts for the hosts as expected, while fellow new signing Gabriel Pec features on the bench and will likely see the field as well. It’s John McCarthy who wins the starting goalkeeper spot over Nico Micovic who finished last season in net over the now departed Jonathan Bond.

1 hour to kickoff: While we wait for starting lineups, a quick look around the rest of the league shows a pair of scoreless draws earlier today, as Toronto FC got a point in Cincinnati while the New York Red Bulls held Nashville in Tennessee. Those three matches featured a whopping 46 combined shots, but just 14 on target and no goals. The Red Bulls, with Emil Forsberg debuting at striker, were unlucky not to score, hitting the woodwork three times across their match in Nashville. Hopefully we get a little more goal action here tonight in LA!

1 hour 15 mins to kick: With Inter Miami playing in Los Angeles for just the third time in club history, and first ever against the Galaxy on the road, there should be plenty of celebrities on hand to watch Lionel Messi take on David Beckham’s former club.

1 hour 30 mins to kick: The LA Galaxy have gone through significant change this offseason, with a bevy of incoming and outgoing roster moves. They sent Chicharito back to his home country of Mexico, while Tyler Boyd, Douglas Costa, Chris Mavinga, Raheem Edwards, Jonathan Klinsmann, and many others departed.

In their place arrived Joseph Paintsil, Gabriel Pec, John Nelson, Miguel Berry and Miki Yamane. Paintsil and Pec both required significant investment and will look to revamp the overhauled front line. Paintsil, signed as a designated player, is expected to make his debut despite only just recently arriving in the U.S. Pec may also feature, but he arrived only days ago and would be a stretch to start.

They also made a few changes at the goalkeeper position, with Jonathan Bond and Jonathan Klinsmann both departing for good, while John McCarthy was added to compete with young Serbian youth international Novak Micovic.

1 hour 45 mins to kick: As Tata Martino looks to navigate the thin depth at Inter Miami, he raised some eyebrows by experimenting with Noah Allen at center-back during preseason. Some believed this was just to get him minutes at a new position given Inter Miami are thin along the back line and need flexibility, but it seems Martino may be fully changing Allen’s position, telling MLS journalist Franco Panizo “he’s a center-back not a full-back.”

It’s a surprise given his small stature, but Allen may be called upon with Kamal Miller gone, Serhiy Kryvtsov looking a few steps off the pace, and Nicolas Freire nursing a knee injury. Seems like Freire did make the trip and is available today by the looks of an Inter Miami social media post two hours prior to kickoff.

2 hours to kickoff: Riqui Puig, a former Barcelona player himself, will match up against Barcelona’s previous generation of greats in this match. Puig has been exceptional since joining the Galaxy in the summer of 2022, but has had little help as he’s had to carry the entire team himself at times.

It’s a special chance to match up against a player who is no doubt special to him and his former club.

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy lineups, team news

LA Galaxy come into the 2024 season at less than full strength. Their biggest absence is young defensive star Jalen Neal, who had hernia surgery two weeks ago and will miss six to eight weeks in total. His return will be critical not just for the Galaxy, but also for the United States, as Neal figures to factor in heavily in the youth side that will compete in this summer’s Olympics.

Martin Caceres and Daniel Aguirre both missed time in preseason with fitness concerns but have regained their match availability., and both appear in the squad, with the former starting and the latter on the bench.

New big-money signing Joseph Paintsil starts in his Galaxy debut, and his addition is expected to be a positive one after scoring 14 goals and assisting 14 others in 30 Belgian top-flight matches with Genk last season. He has six and four, respectively, through just over half of the current campaign. Gabriel Pec, meanwhile, only just landed in the U.S. on Thursday and begins on the bench, though should push for a starting spot soon.

LA Galaxy starting lineup (4-3-3): McCarthy (GK) — Yamane, Caceres, Yoshida, Aude — Yamane, Puig, Cerrillo, Delgado — Paintsil, Joveljic, Fagundez.

LA Galaxy subs (9): Micovic, Cuevas, Nelson, Zavaleta, Augirre, Brugman, Perez, Berry, Pec.

Inter Miami will spend all season meticulously managing the workload of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Messi has dealt with sporadic muscle issues in recent years, so in a road match with cross-country travel on very short rest, his availability this weekend was arguably in question even with no particular injury present.

Suarez, on the other hand, has managed a chronic knee issue over the past two years and limped off after 85 minutes on Wednesday, so he too could see rest here. Tata Martino dismissed questions about possibly resting Suarez against the Galaxy, but it feels reckless to overuse him so early. Still, they both make the starting lineup tonight.

Sergio Busquets played just five short of the full 90 minutes and appears recovered from his preseason ankle injury. New defensive signing Nicolas Freire saw some minutes late in preseason but missed the opener as he recovers from a pre-existing knee injury, and is only on the bench today. Benjamin Cremaschi is out for the first few months with a knee injury.

Inter Miami starting lineup (4-3-3): Callender (GK) — Yedlin, Aviles, Kryvtsov, Alba — Gressel, Busquets, D. Gomez — Messi, Suarez, Taylor.

Inter Miami subs (9): Dos Santos (GK), Allen, Sailor, Freire, Sunderland, D. Ruiz, Mota, Campana, Borgelin.

How to watch Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy

Every single match of the 2024 MLS regular season, playoffs, and Leagues Cup can all be found across the globe exclusively on MLS Season Pass from Apple TV.

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