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MLS

Houston Dynamo manager Ben Olsen speaks about Inter Miami and Lionel Messi before US Open Cup final

The Houston Dynamo manager spoke about Inter Miami and the huge challenge in stopping their Argentine forward, Lionel Messi.

Update:
Inter Miami vs Toronto FC en vivo: Messi en MLS 2023 en directo
CHRIS ARJOONAFP

Houston Dynamo go up against Inter Miami in the final of the US Open Cup on 27 September 2023 at 8.30 p.m. ET/5.30 p.m. PT. Ahead of the game at DRV PNK Stadium, Ben Olsen, manager of Houston Dynamo, spoke to the media in which he mentioned the huge challenge that comes with stopping Messi, admitting the difficulties that come with stopping who many call the best player in the world.

Since his arrival to MLS, Messi has given a new life to his side, and Inter Miami have gone from the bottom of the standings to Leagues Cup champions in an incredibly short time. Houston Dynamo, for their part, sit 4th in the Western Conference after something of a rebirth themselves.

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Houston ‘far from a finished product’

Olsen opened up on the changes that have taken place at the club to turn things around from a situation in which they were struggling into one on which the club look set for a strong finish, saying “this is a group effort and this is hopefully just the beginning. We are far from a finished product, and in so many ways, it’s a kind of restarting of the organisation on the sporting side. There’s a lot of movement within the front office as well.”

The atmosphere at the club appears to have changed a lot, with their impressive squad showing themselves to be top players in the United States. “With a lot of games you use a lot of players and that’s a good thing, it creates a better culture. Everyone’s helping the season, rather than just sitting on the sidelines.”

Lionel Messi substituted amid fitness concerns
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Messi has been the subject of rumours as to whether he will play against Houston Dynamo.CARMEN MANDATOAFP

What is the best way to stop Messi?

However, after the talk on his own was over, the chat quickly moved to a certain player for the opposition: Lionel Messi. Olsen did not hold back on his thoughts about the World Cup winner, saying that a plan to stop him was something of an impossibility. “Let me ask the 5,000 coaches that have tried before to stop him that have not been able to, guys with better credentials than me”, he said when asked whether he had a specific plan to stop Messi running riot. “Of course you want to condense space and limit him and do all the things that everybody tries to do with all great No. 10s, but really we’ll dissect them as a group and we’ll do what we do with all teams.

Olsen diverted attention away from Messi, saying that the power was with his own team to play their own game: “What we need to focus on, where we need to maybe tweak some of our tactics, [is] to prevent their strengths and also figure out how to exploit their weaknesses. That’s all we’re doing for each team and there won’t be any different preparation.”

‘If I had the right plan to stop Messi, I wouldn’t give it to you’

Inter Miami’s resurgence has come with a new label for the side: no longer the underdogs, everyone is aware of their domination since Messi’s arrival and how they will come into the game as favourites with a large home crowd backing them. “Certainly, the pressure will be on them [Miami]”, said Olsen, “they’re at home, they’ll be the favourites. We’re used to that, we kind of live in that space anyway, so nothing will change as far as where the expectations are from outside Houston and our locker room. We’re fine with that.”

“If I had the right plan to stop him [Messi], I wouldn’t give it to you,” Olsen said to ESPN last week. It is safe to say if he had a plan to stop Messi, Olsen would be a very rich man indeed.