The anticipated “rivalry” between Orlando City and Inter Miami ended on Wednesday night with a much less than exhilarating finish. Essentially, the 0-0 draw exposed some harsh realities for both teams and a supposed rivalry that has yet to heat up.

The match was scheduled during MLS’ “Rivalry Week,” which is used to position the league’s most formidable opponents against each other. However, the narrative around this particular match had to be forced, likely due to Lionel Messi sitting out with an injury.

The crowd in Orlando welcomed Miami with chants echoing throughout the stadium such as, “The Broward County Bandwagons are here.” Of course, Orlando City responded, as their lion mascot, Kingston, waved a sign with the words “GOAT missing. If found please return 2 Argentina,” and was later witnessed tearing apart pink Flamingo floaties used to resemble the Herons. On the Jumbotron, a slideshow of fans with tear emojis superimposed on their faces and wearing Argentina jerseys was featured. It was fittingly set to the song “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.”

The taunting continued right until kickoff with Orlando singling out Miami supporters on the Jumbotron. Images of fans with phrases like “Still in denial that a certain forward will return to Barcelona” were used under a fan wearing Messi’s old Barcelona shirt. Other phrases said, “Hasn’t figured out that Beckham doesn’t play for the team” and “Inter Miami fan since June, Kansas City Chiefs fan since February (probably).”

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During their preview interviews with ESPN, Orlando City’s supporters attempted to channel similar energy as their opponents.

Head coach Oscar Pareja said, “It’s always a Classico against Miami, but so much more now due to the attention they’ve recently received.” Coach Pareja continued, “Undoubtedly, the rivalry is a special date.”

“It’s the closest thing we have to a rivalry, and there have been some tight matchups against them,” defender Robin Jansson added. “But, yes, it’s a rivalry.”

However, even though the pre-match trash talk and Jumbotron hijinks were intended to set a mood, Orlando fans did not seem to bring the intensity. As Miami players made their way onto the pitch, Orlando fans attempted to boo them but were drowned out with no legitimate attempt to rally and put pressure on the visitors.

Rather, various instrumentals were paired with the expected song, “Vamos Orlando, esta noche tenemos que ganar” [Come on Orlando, tonight we have to win] randomly during the game. As you might guess, this was hardly an imposing environment. 

Despite being relegated to their own corner of the stadium and without Messi even in attendance, Miami fans managed to hold their own and cheer. Miami players appeared entirely unphased by any of the indefinable attempts to intimidate them both on and off the field.

Miami goalkeeper Drake Calendar said “They are technically our rival. I mean they are the other MLS team in Florida. They are purple, and we are pink. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it… I know there are some Classicos where you can see the other stadium from your own.” He continued, “Granted they are Central Florida and we’re South Florida. For the new guys, it’s about recognizing that when going against our rival, or really any team, we need to play to win.”

Some feel perhaps it was a positive thing that Messi was not in attendance, as he is accustomed to playing in the most intense rivalries with Barcelona vs Real Madrid and Argentina vs Brazil on his resume. Either way, the point is well-received as the Orlando-Miami version of a rivalry fell drastically short.