[Fox News] MLS coach slams officiating, treatment of Lionel Messi in loss to Inter Miami

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Lionel Messi has been a welcomed addition to Major League Soccer, with one exception: Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja.

Inter Miami celebrated a 3-1 victory over Orlando City on Wednesday in a Leagues Cup match in which Messi scored twice, making it his second consecutive multi-goal performance since joining the team and his third-straight scoring.

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Pareja, however, was less than impressed with the officiating and suggested that the international star received preferential treatment from referees, calling the whole thing a “circus.”

“There was a double yellow card for Messi. I don’t care that he was Messi,” he said after the game via AFP. “That affects the game. The match should be fair and that was not the case on the field.”

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Messi was given a yellow card in the 21st minute of the game after a hard foul, but after a similar foul later in the game, Pareja felt Messi should’ve been given another yellow card, which would have resulted in a red card and his exit from the game.

He also took issue with a penalty kick that was awarded to Miami when the game was tied 1-1 and with the officials for not reviewing the play.

“We take our responsibility, OK, we lost, we are frustrated, but I have to say [this], you cannot hide this kind of situation,” he continued.

Messi scored seven minutes into the match and again at the 72-minute mark. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has now recorded five goals in three games since his highly anticipated MLS debut on July 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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