Lionel Messi and Inter Miami zero in on U.S. Open Cup final: USWNT say goodbye to Megan Rapinoe

Welcome to a new week! Between the North London Derby and Megan Rapinoe’s national team farewell, it was a busy weekend across the soccer world. I’m Pardeep Cattry with a recap of the latest, plus a look ahead at some of this week’s major events.

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📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Monday, Sept. 25
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Championship: Coventry vs. Huddersfield, 3 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🇦🇷 Primera Division: Godoy Cruz vs. Racing Club, 5:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🇧🇷 Brasileirao: America Mineiro vs. Vasco da Gama, 7 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+

Tuesday, Sept. 26
🇮🇹 Serie A: Juventus vs. Lecce, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🇩🇪 DFB Pokal: Preußen Munster vs. Bayern Munich, 2:45 p.m.➡️ ESPN+ 
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 League Cup: Man United vs. Crystal Palace, 3 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🇪🇸 La Liga: Mallorca vs. Barcelona, 3:30 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🌍 Women’s Olympic qualifier: Canada vs. Jamaica, 7 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+

🏆 Make sure to check out the U.S. Open Cup final coverage schedule across Paramount+ and CBSSN.

📺 What’s on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 7-9 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network’s flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you’ll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday and Friday, 4-5 p.m.): The leading women’s soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. Watch Monday and Friday this week at 4 p.m. ET as our analysts break down the best highlights and analysis and share insider information for all things women’s soccer.

👟 Kickin’ It (Wednesday, 11:30 p.m.): CBS Sports Golazo Network’s new unfiltered show airs Wednesday, hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies as they chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can’t-miss goals from the day’s action, airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports appPluto TV and Paramount+.

⚽  The Forward Line

🛏️ Messi gets another day off and for good reason

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With all eyes on Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final, Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba sat out Inter Miami’s 1-1 draw at Orlando last night. The move came as no surprise since manager Tata Martino said as much last week, when he admitted that Messi and Alba are fatigued after being thrust into the team when they arrived in July.

Messi arrived in Miami in July on the back of a full European club season and a World Cup. Then he played nearly every minute of the club’s championship run in the Leagues Cup. Those minutes eventually caught up to the 36-year-old, and he has been in and out of Miami’s team over the last month. The Orlando game is the second Messi’s missed, and he came off in the 37th minute of last week’s win over Toronto for the same reason.

The good news for Miami? He will be well rested for Wednesday’s Open Cup final against the Houston Dynamo, which will air on Paramount+. and CBS Sports Network. It offers the club a chance to win their second trophy this season. The not-so-great news? Their showing against Orlando shows they lack plenty of punch without Messi, which could be costly as they continue their quest for an MLS playoff berth as Chuck Booth notes.

  • Booth: “The Argentine superstar has been the focal point of the attack, with Sergio Busquets serving as a safety valve when needed. Without either of them, Miami struggled to break down the opposition’s defense. Robert Taylor and Campana combined to create four chances, but the rest of the team managed only four chances throughout the match. Farias plays a key role as the creative force for the team, and if Messi’s injury turns out to be more than just fatigue, it could be a cause for concern for the Herons.”

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

🇺🇸 USWNT say goodbye to Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe played her 203rd and final match for the U.S. women’s national team yesterday and capped off her 17-year tenure with a 2-0 win over South Africa. The buildup and the match itself were full of tributes for a one-of-a-kind American soccer star whose legacy is so strongly felt both on the field and off. Sandra Herrera wrote about Rapinoe’s impact in a must-read piece:

  • Herrera: “Her gains in sport and outside of it are forever linked because she could not and would not separate her gender or sexuality from being an athlete. She is all of that and more, all at the same time. She didn’t stop being a gay woman whenever she stepped on the pitch, just like she didn’t stop producing big footballing moments when she began more vocal and visible protest and activism later in her career.”

Rapinoe took a moment after the match to reflect on her career and thank the fans in the stadium as well as those watching from elsewhere.

  • Rapinoe: “When I think of what it means to represent this team and this country, we’re just a little snapshot of all of you. I think this team has always taken so much pride in that and showing up as our whole selves … to continue to create more space for ourselves to be who we are, but hopefully in turn to create more space for you to be who you are. It has been such an honor to wear this shirt and play with all these players and live out my childhood dreams, just casually in front of the whole world.”

The match itself felt like a passing of the torch, with Trinity Rodman serving as the star of the show. She scored the game’s first goal and was a presence in attack throughout while promising young forward Mia Fishel earned her first cap for the national team and showed glimpses of potential. Time for younger players will be crucial as the USWNT begin their rebuild following a disappointing Women’s World Cup and with the Olympics in Paris right around the corner.

🔗  Top Stories

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Unpacking NLD: Tottenham came back from behind twice to earn a point in yesterday’s North London Derby against Arsenal, which highlighted Ange Postecoglou’s transformation of Spurs but exposed the Gunners’ inconsistent press and Mikel Arteta’s decisions in midfield.

😲 Wild scenes: Ajax’s game against Feyenoord was abandoned at halftime after fans threw fireworks on the pitch, and it got worse after that, revealing an ongoing problem in the Dutch game.

🚑 Cause for concern?: Kylian Mbappe left Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 win over Marseille with an ankle injury, but coach Luis Enrique is optimistic.

🇺🇸 Honoring a legend: Here’s another tribute to Rapinoe, courtesy of the Morning Footy team.

🇪🇺 They did what? Elsewhere around Europe, Barcelona produced a stunning comeback and Newcastle made history.

🙈 Painful pass: Juventus’ Federico Gatti scored a pretty bizarre own goal in their 4-2 loss to Sassuolo that you just have to see.

🐐 Another one: Messi’s competing for yet another trophy in just a couple of days, so it’s time to preview Miami’s matchup against Houston.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • League Cup: Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace, Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Teams to draw (+290)
    — United might be the oddsmakers’ favorites to pick up another win after beating Burnley over the weekend, but the narrow victory did little to convince that their poor run of form is officially behind them. Now’s as good a time as any to bet that United are not out of the woods yet, especially as they face a tricky Crystal Palace side.
  • La Liga: Mallorca vs. Barcelona, Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
  • 💰 THE PICK: Barcelona to win 2-0 (+675) — Barcelona have been in fine form all season long, including a major win in the Champions League last week. Expect them to breeze past Mallorca as they continue their quest to defend last season’s La Liga title.

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