Messi, Inter Miami begin preseason with draw against El Salvador
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Four days after being named FIFA's best men's player, Lionel Messi began the preseason with Inter Miami of Major League Soccer, which played to a scoreless draw with the El Salvador national team in an exhibition on Friday night.
The Argentina star played in the first half alongside Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, his new teammate for the upcoming MLS season. Suarez reunited with Messi in Miami after the pair played six seasons together with Barcelona.
Fans packed the Cuscatlán stadium several hours before the start. El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, took the opportunity to meet Messi and hosted the team at the Presidential House ahead of the game.
Messi had a couple of scoring chances and set up Jordi Alba for a scoring opportunity in the 39th minute, but goalkeeper Mario González deflected the shot.
Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino rested Messi, Suárez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets in the second half. The club still controlled possession, but El Salvador had the best scoring chance when Steven Vázquez's shot rattled the crossbar in the 83rd minute.
The 36-year-old Messi arrived in Miami last July and scored 10 goals in seven games. He led the club to its first-ever trophy by winning the Leagues Cup final on Aug. 19.
Inter Miami will play FC Dallas next Monday at the Cotton Bowl and then will travel to Saudi Arabia to face Al Hilal on Jan. 29 and Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr on Feb. 2.
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