US OPEN CUP
What did FC Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan say about Lionel Messi?
Ahead of the US Open Cup semi-final, the Cincy boss revealed that he has studied how other MLS teams tried to contain the Argentine.
Inter Miami travel to FC Cincinnati on Wednesday for the US Open Cup semi-final, bringing together the teams at the top and bottom of MLS.
The visitors may have the fewest points in the league but they are an entirely different prospect since the arrival of Lionel Messi last month. Ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final clash, Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan admitted that stopping Messi will be very difficult.
“You just look at all the games and there’s different approaches from the opposition,” Noonan told reporters at the Mercy Health Training Center.
“So whether it’s teams that are a little bit more aggressive in their pressing or teams that are sitting in, [Messi] still understands how to find the game and find the ball and moments to make plays.”
FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami is available to view on the streaming platform FuboTV (free trial available).
Noonan: Messi just needs one moment
Throughout Miami’s run to their Leagues Cup triumph Messi made crucial interventions at key times. He scored ten goals in seven matches, five of which were efforts from outside the box, and dazzled defences.
Ahead of Wednesday’s fixture, Noonan admitted that it is almost impossible to keep a player of Messi’s quality quiet for an entire game.
“Even when you do things right, even when you get pressure to a top player like him, he has the ability to beat you one on one,” he said.
“In one moment, even with the right defensive structure, the right numbers around the ball, he still has the ability to change the game with the spectacular.”
Cincinnati look to learn from previous Messi performances
But while Messi’s talent is vast, it is not insurmountable. At 36 there are some physical limitations on his performance and he has played almost without rest since arriving in Miami.
In the Leagues Cup final Nashville managed to keep him quiet for much of the game, although the Argentine still struck a sumptuous opener from the edge of the box. Nevertheless Noonan believes that Cincinnati can learn from Nashville’s stoic defensive showing against Miami.
“I thought Nashville played a very good game, but it just takes a moment or two and he can make the difference.”
“We just try to talk through the ways to limit his ability to get on the ball,” he added.
Inter Miami face FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium in the semi-final of the US Open Cup on Wednesday, 23 August.