On Friday july 21, a massive gathering of soccer enthusiasts thronged DRV PNK Stadium, eagerly awaiting a glimpse of none other than Lionel Messi, widely hailed as the greatest soccer player alive. The excitement was palpable, but the journey to witness this sporting legend in action was not without its challenges.
For fans traveling from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, the commute proved arduous, as the roads were choked with heavy traffic, exacerbated by the concurrent Rolling Loud music festival taking place in town that very weekend. As if that wasn’t enough, late arrivals faced the additional hassle of finding scarce parking spaces, adding to the pre-game tension.
Yet, the passionate spirit of the fans persevered, with hundreds of them converging outside DRV PNK Stadium a full three hours before the gates swung open. The atmosphere was electric, as they engaged in merry conversations, indulged in refreshments, and reveled in the music, creating an aura of camaraderie and anticipation.
Among the sea of pink and black, the colors of Inter Miami, the passionate Cruz Azul fans stood out, displaying their allegiance with vibrant tailgate gatherings and resounding renditions of the Cruz Azul anthem. The air was filled with enthusiasm and friendly banter, as rival supporters exchanged playful jibes, fueling the excitement for the impending showdown.
Lola Muñoz, a devoted Inter Miami fan, exuded confidence in her team, jestingly dismissing any hopes of victory for Cruz Azul against the illustrious Lionel Messi and the unwavering support of the Inter Miami fan base. Her enthusiasm resonated with the throngs of supporters surrounding her, creating a sense of unity and solidarity among the fervent crowd.
Frederico Musgrove, an Argentine residing in Miami, shared his joy at witnessing a surge in fan numbers since the arrival of Messi. Reflecting on the Sunday presentation, he marveled at the remarkable growth of the fanbase, eagerly anticipating even more supporters as the game drew nearer. Despite facing an extended commute of one hour and forty minutes, compared to the usual forty-five minutes, Musgrove’s passion for the sport and the team was undiminished, and he readily embraced the pre-match buzz.
Maria and Alex Osusa, fellow Argentines who journeyed from West Palm Beach, set out early to ensure they would be part of the momentous occasion. Undeterred by the knowledge that the event would draw a massive crowd, they rose with the sun, arriving at least three hours ahead of the game to secure their spots amidst the fervor.
Alejandro Granada, a proud native of Miami and an ardent Inter Miami supporter since the team’s inaugural season in 2018, recounted the evolution of attending games over the years. From the days of simpler setups to the present-day grandeur, characterized by heightened security measures, expanded seating capacity, and revamped food offerings, Granada marveled at the growth of the soccer club and its immense popularity with Messi on board.
Comparing the Friday game to the bustling “Unveil” ceremony on the preceding Sunday, Granada acknowledged the smoother entry process for the match, attributing it to the team’s meticulous planning and organization. Despite the result being secondary, the fans’ collective thrill of witnessing history unfold and being part of the dawn of a new era for Inter Miami Football was evident.
The match concluded with Inter Miami clinching a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Cruz Azul, marking a significant triumph for the team since their win against Nashville SC in the US Open Cup back in May. As fans jubilated, basking in the post-game euphoria, they cherished the memories of this remarkable sporting spectacle, eagerly looking forward to the next thrilling encounter in the world of soccer.