Lionel Messi was substituted due to a muscle strain in the 37th minute of Inter Miami’s 4-0 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday, just minutes after his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba left the field.
Miami coach Gerardo Martino said after the match that both Alba and Messi will be evaluated in the coming days, but neither player will be available to play against Orlando City on Sunday until they are ready for the US Open Cup final against the Houston Dynamo. The next Wednesday.
“There’s no chance they’ll be there on Sunday. I know we have a final to play [next Wednesday] “But they won’t go near the field if they can’t play,” Martino said.
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Messi and Alba, who started the match after not making the trip for Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta United, did not participate in any particularly heavy challenges or visibly limp but were clearly in some sort of physical discomfort.
“They trained normally and we felt they were ready to play,” Martino said through a translator. “I don’t think there’s anything new or anything worse than it was before. It’s fatigue. We don’t think it’s a muscle injury. That’s also from a conversation I just had with [Messi]. But we have to continue to be careful and we will look at it in the next few days.”
He added: “I’m cautious about what could happen, and after talking to them, I’m less pessimistic than I was when I had to replace them.”
Both players went straight to the bench instead of the locker room after leaving the field, and Miami’s Facundo Farias scored a goal shortly after to give the home team a 1-0 lead at halftime. Robert Taylor then scored two brilliant goals either side of Benjamin Cremaci’s strike in the second half to secure the three points.
Messi looked lively early and had a golden opportunity in the 23rd minute when he shot a powerful shot over the crossbar from close range. However, after 15 minutes, it was clear that the Argentine was having a physical problem, and he was replaced by Taylor.
Alba had left just four minutes before Messi. Toronto also made two substitutions before the Miami pair left the game, with another former Barcelona youth player – Victor Vazquez – having to come off in the 12th minute. His replacement, Brandon Servania, was helped out just 14 minutes later with an apparent knee injury.
Before coming off, Messi spent a few minutes dealing with what appeared to be a leg problem. He would stretch his right leg during play, then eventually took off the captain’s armband and simply waited for play to stop so he could leave – not even waiting to get off the field before unbuttoning his boots, lowering his socks and removing his shin pads. .
Messi missed his last two matches – one for the club and the other for the national team – in recent days, after missing Argentina’s World Cup qualifier win over Bolivia on September 12, and the loss to Atalanta on Saturday.
Fatigue was mentioned in both cases, and Messi was not made available for comment.
Wednesday’s match was the first of six matches for Inter Miami in 17 days. After games against Orlando on Sunday and Houston in the Open Cup on September 27, Miami plays three more MLS matches in short order against New York City FC on September 30, at Chicago Fire Stadium on October 4, and hosts FC Cincinnati. On October 7th.
With this result, Miami is five points behind DC United, which tied 1-1 with Cincinnati on Wednesday, to qualify for the final playoffs in the Eastern Conference, with two postponed matches.
Messi entered Wednesday after participating in 11 matches with Miami, most of them in the League Cup and the US Open Cup. He had 11 goals and five assists in his first 11 games, including one goal and two assists in three MLS games.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.