A 0-0 draw against El Salvador on Friday was an unexpectedly low-key opening to Inter Miami’s much-publicized preseason trip.

In their first game of this year’s preseason, the Herons started a solid starting eleven. Tata Martino made headlines when he started all four former Barcelona players.

He had Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi back together for a two-man attack. Meanwhile, in goal, Drake Callender was prominent.

The five-man backline consisted of Jordi Alba, Noah Allen, Tomas Aviles, DeAndre Yedlin, and Julian Gressel. Lastly, Gregore, Sergio Busquets, and Benjamin Cremaschi began in the middle of the field.

Maybe it wasn’t the soaring start that everyone was hoping for. However, the first chapter of Miami‘s 2024 tale was pretty successful, as each ex-Barca player made it to their scheduled halftime replacements uninjured.

How did the game go?

The Estadio Cuscatlan spectators had several thrilling moments during the first half. In the 35th and 39th minutes, Inter Miami’s Messi and Alba had good scoring opportunities. However, El Salvador’s goalie made great saves to keep the scores tied.

In the next five minutes, after receiving a long ball from the left side, Alba also struck a shot, but Gonzalez saved it as well.

But, the first half was when the home team had the most scoring opportunities. They were happy with a more direct approach and aimed to smash Miami on the counter-attack.

Suarez made his first appearance for Inter Miami in El Salvador
Suarez made his first appearance for Inter Miami in El Salvador

Suarez made his first appearance for Inter Miami in El Salvador

In the second half, a number of players made their debuts for the 2024 preseason. Such are Leonardo Campana, Facundo Farías, Sergii Kryvtsov, Chris McVey, Ryan Saylor, and Robert Taylor. That is when started to lose ground.

To make matters worse, a promising player in the last stretch of 2023, 21-year-old Facundo Farias went out with a potential knee injury.

A disagreement in the middle of the field led to Gregore and Darwin Ceren receiving yellow cards in the second half. It somehow heated up the game. The lone contentious incident occurred later on when Ceren challenged Facundo Farias at the wrong time. Unfortunately, it sent Farias off the field on a stretcher.

Still, without a goal, Inter Miami played the last fifteen minutes with 10 players after using all of their substitutes.

The Herons’ 2024 season has started, and it wasn’t quite the high-octane extravaganza that Estadio Cuscatlan was anticipating.

What’s next for Inter Miami?

The Estadio Cuscatlan crowd in San Salvador went wild for Lionel Messi whenever he touched the ball. Before the final whistle, when he was leaving the bench for the locker rooms, supporters waved and applauded him off.

Before the 2024 Major League Soccer season starts, Inter Miami will go on a globe tour that covers over 25,000km. This was only the first portion of the journey.

Inter Miami’s next match is Monday, January 22, in Texas’s Cotton Bowl Stadium, against FC Dallas. Before returning to South Florida to play Newell’s Old Boys in the last match of their preseason, they will stop in Riyadh, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

To kick off the 2024 preseason, Inter Miami players used custom jerseys that included the Inter Miami CF Foundation logo.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Sebastian Frej