Atlanta United have mocked MLS opponents Inter Miami and their absentee captain Lionel Messi after coming from behind to beat them 5-2.
Messi, 36, did not travel to Atlanta this weekend despite returning to training on Thursday and Friday after representing Argentina over the international break. It meant the World Cup winner did not play on the opposition’s artificial turf pitch. However, Inter Miami head coach Tata Martino explained that the decision to rest Messi was “because he has muscular fatigue and it was prudent to leave him”.
Despite winning against Sporting Kansas City last weekend without their talisman, Inter Miami did miss their skipper a week later. Fellow summer signing Jordi Alba also did not play, but Sergio Busquets did feature for the full 90 minutes in midfield.
Alongside the ex- Barcelona captain, former Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Leonardo Campana gave the visitors an early lead. However, Atlanta scored three goals in eight minutes to lead 3-1 at half-time.
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The Ecuador international did halve the deficit after the break before the hosts bounced back with two further goals through ex- Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and substitute Tyler Wolff. From the full-time whistle onwards, Atlanta relentlessly made fun of Messi and Miami on social media.
“Tell ‘em to bring the whole squad next time,” the team’s account posted immediately after the referee blew up. Minutes later, their Spanish-language account mocked Messi, using his social media activity against him.
On Friday night, the player shared an Instagram story showing a pizza he had ordered from a Miami-based restaurant. The photo went viral, with many interpreting it as a hint that he would not play in the weekend’s game.
The food also came in for criticism online, with a distinct lack of cheese or pizza sauce on the base. Instead, there were plenty of sliced tomatoes and green olives.
Atlanta had some fun with the toppings by rearranging them into the shape of an ‘L’ on the pizza, representing Inter Miami’s loss on the pitch. “Here you have your pizza for the trip,” the Spanish caption reads when translated.
However, their English account did not stop with one post. Captioned “iOS update 17.0,” they posted another edited image mocking Messi featuring for a fleeting moment at Apple’s event earlier this week launching the latest iPhone.
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While showcasing the device’s Dynamic Island feature during a presentation, a demonstration showed how sports scores can be sent to a user’s notifications. Their hypothetical example was a push notification of Messi scoring against Atlanta in the eighth minute.
Using a screenshot from the presentation, Atlanta made a version of the notification by displaying the full-time score from Saturday’s game. With that setback, Inter Miami are seven points adrift of the final playoff place with seven league games still to play.
They also remain in the U.S. Open Cup. The final against the Houston Dynamo takes place next midweek.