Saturday night's Leagues Cup Final at GEODIS Park (9 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) is shaping up to be a thriller. Either Inter Miami's Lionel Messi-inspired turnaround reaches new heights or Nashville's Hany Mukhtar-led squad completes the job.
Beyond silverware, there are also some 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup stakes to watch for. Both clubs have already qualified for the continental club competition as two of Leagues Cup's top three finishers, but Saturday's winner gets a bye into the Round of 16 (the loser starts in Round One).
To the expert predictions!
Nashville will concede possession and Miami have scored the first goal in all but one of their six Leagues Cup games (21 goals overall). Also, it’s Messi in a final – not sure I need a stat to support that.
I picked Nashville to win the tournament before it started and I’m sticking to it. I can’t believe I'm betting against Messi, but Nashville will stick to their game plan of being organized defensively and capitalize on counterattacks and set pieces. Messi scores, but suffers his first defeat in an Inter Miami jersey.
This will be Messi’s toughest test since arriving in MLS, but Miami will win 3-2 in an incredible final.
I think it's going to be a very tight game. Nashville are playing at a high level and making GEODIS Park a real fortress. But Miami have Messi and he's raised everyone's game within the team. It'll be a nail-biter, with Messi raising yet another trophy after a PK shootout.
Messi’s not just the greatest individual player ever, he’s also the greatest force magnifier – a guy who makes all his teammates better. Sergio Busquets does the same thing.
So now Miami's got too many ways to cook. They win 2-1.
My brain says Messi and Miami’s magical run ends in Nashville, just short of a historic Leagues Cup lift. Gary Smith’s team is FC Dallas… but with more individual difference-makers and experience.
My gut won’t let me pick against the GOAT. I just can’t bring myself to do it, especially in a final. The Herons, on the road, win a penalty-kick shootout 7-6 after a 3-3 draw.
Miami will have the majority of possession in this game, while Nashville will do what they’ve always done: be dangerous in transition and counterattack moments to make it very difficult for Miami. It should be a great game, but Miami will win 2-1.
Maybe I'll look a fool for not going with Lionel Messi and this new-look, free-flowing Inter Miami side. But there's value in home-field advantage, especially in a final, and we shouldn't forget how special Hany Mukhtar is around goal.
Barring a superhuman game from visiting goalkeeper Drake Callender, all of Nashville's pressure pays off and rewards their loyal fans with silverware.