Peter Vermes praises Lionel Messi in Sporting KC's narrow defeat to Inter Miami

  • Inter Miami narrowly defeated Sporting KC to end a winless run of five games
  • Lionel Messi managed one goal and one assist to propel the Herons to victory
  • Peter Vermes acknowledged Messi's greatness despite his side's shortcomings
Messi shined in Miami's win over Sporting KC
Messi shined in Miami's win over Sporting KC / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City came up just short against Inter Miami Saturday night, and head coach Peter Vermes praised Lionel Messi's quality and how the superstar can take over a game at any given moment.

The 36-year-old registered his fifth goal and fifth assist of the season as Miami came from behind to topple Kansas City 3-2 in front of a crowd just north of 72,000 at Arrowhead Stadium. Messi's assist -- that came in the 18th minute to tie things up after Erik Thommy's opener in the sixth minute -- was a thing of beauty, as the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner saw a pass that no one else on the field saw to play Diego Gomez through on goal.

Just after the second half started, Messi received the ball on the edge of SKC's penalty area following a turnover in the midfield and sent a powerful strike past the veteran Tim Melia. Kansas City's Thommy would bag another to cancel out Messi's incredible effort, but Gomez pounced after some great defensive work to set up a tap-in finish for the iconic Luis Suarez.

"We lost the ball three times and they just have the quality that, when you do, they can punish you," Vermes said after the final whistle. "And there's a lot of games in MLS where you play back and forth. You play against other teams and they give up some chances, you give up some chances.

"But at the end of the day, the quality that they have if you just look at the first goal. The pass that [Lionel] Messi makes and then the second goal with the ball that he hits from where he hits it from. I think you all would agree that you don't see that regularly in MLS and you do when you play against them. They can punish you and that's what they did."

Vermes, the current longest-serving MLS coach, still believes it was a strong showing from his side under the bright lights against the greatest player to ever play the beautiful game.

"I thought we played very, very well. I really do. I really do. A little luck and maybe it could have been a little different," he said.

Vermes also revealed that he understood why there were many Miami shirts spotted in the crowd and that he probably would've done the same if he weren't in charge of the team squaring off against Messi.

"Obviously there's a lot of people that want to come and see Messi, which I understand," he said. "If I was in a different situation, I'd want to come see him as well. So I understand that aspect."

Arrowhead Stadium -- which is home to the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs -- is set to play host as one of the 11 venues for the 2026 World Cup. Vermes fully believes that the clash between Sporting KC and Inter Miami just might be a preview of what's to come in two years time for the biggest sporting competition in the world.

"The environment was out of this world. It was fantastic. It's a prelude to what probably will be here for the World cup and then some. This was incredible. It was a great environment. I thought the fans were tremendous in all respects. It was a great environment to play in front of."