Messi and Alba exited the Inter Miami victory during the first half and are set to miss the upcoming match. 21|sep|2023

Lionel Messi was substituted of Inter Miami :

Lionel Messi was substituted in the 37th minute of Inter Miami CF’s 4-0 triumph over Toronto FC on Wednesday, citing muscle fatigue. This change occurred shortly after his former Barcelona comrade, Jordi Alba, also left the field.

Following the match, Miami’s coach, Gerardo Martino, informed the press that both Alba and Messi would undergo evaluations in the coming days. However, he asserted that neither player would be fit to participate in the upcoming match against Orlando City on Sunday. This decision was made in order to ensure their readiness for the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo scheduled for the following Wednesday.

Martino stated, “There is no possibility of them being available on Sunday. I understand that we have a final next Wednesday, but they will not be allowed near the pitch if they are not fit to play.”

Messi and Alba, who were both included in the starting lineup despite missing the previous Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta United FC, did not appear to be involved in any overly strenuous challenges or display visible signs of limping. Nevertheless, they clearly experienced some form of physical discomfort.

Martino explained, “They underwent standard training, and we believed they were prepared for the match. I don’t believe this is anything new or more serious than what they previously experienced. It’s simply fatigue. We don’t believe it’s a muscular injury. This is also based on a recent conversation I had with Messi. Nonetheless, we must exercise caution and closely monitor their condition over the next few days.”

He further added, “I am wary of potential complications, but after speaking with them, I am now less pessimistic than I was when I decided to substitute them.”

Both players headed directly to the bench instead of the changing room after leaving the field. Following their departure, Miami’s Facundo Farías promptly scored a goal, giving the home team a 1-0 lead at halftime. Subsequently, Robert Taylor netted two sensational goals, one on each side of a Benjamin Cremaschi strike in the second half, securing the three points.

Messi displayed early signs of liveliness and had a prime opportunity in the 23rd minute when he fired a far-post volley that sailed over the bar from close range. Nonetheless, it became apparent 15 minutes later that the Argentine was struggling due to some physical ailment, leading to his substitution in favor of Taylor.

Alba left the field just four minutes before Messi, and Toronto also made two substitutions before the Miami duo’s departure. Victor Vasquez, another former Barcelona youth player, was forced off in the 12th minute. His replacement, Brandon Servania, was later assisted off the field with an apparent knee injury after only 14 minutes.

Before being substituted, Messi appeared to grapple with a leg issue for a few minutes. He was seen stretching his right leg during play. Eventually, he removed his captain’s armband and patiently awaited a stoppage in play to make his exit. He even took off his boots, lowered his socks, and removed his shin guards right there on the field, bypassing the tunnel to the changing room.

Messi had been absent from his past two matches, one for his club and the other for the national team, in recent days. He missed Argentina’s World Cup qualifying victory against Bolivia on 12th September and also sat out the loss to Atlanta the previous Saturday. Fatigue was attributed to his absence in both instances. Messi, however, was unavailable for comment regarding these matters.

The match on Wednesday marked the commencement of a demanding six-game stretch for Inter Miami, all within a span of 17 days. Following the fixtures against Orlando on Sunday and Houston in the Open Cup on 27th September, Miami is slated to contest three additional MLS matches in rapid succession against New York City FC on 30th September, an encounter at Chicago Fire FC on 4th October, and a home game against FC Cincinnati on 7th October.

As a result of this outcome, Miami finds itself trailing D.C. United by five points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, although they have two matches in hand. D.C. United played to a 1-1 draw with Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Messi, having appeared in 11 matches for Miami, most of them in Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup competitions, entered Wednesday’s game with an impressive record of 11 goals and five assists in his initial 11 appearances, including one goal and two assists in three MLS matches.

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