Lionel Messi is OUT! Inter Miami star is sidelined again with a leg injury as his Herons teammates face NYCFC with a potential playoff spot on the line
Lionel Messi will once again be sidelined for Inter Miami’s match against NYFC due to a muscle injury.
Messi was not active on Wednesday during the US Open Cup final against Houston due to the leg problem. This marked his fourth absence in a spell spanning his last five appearances combined for club and country.
And it is unclear whether Messi will remain sidelined when Inter Miami resumes its bid to reach the Major League Soccer play-offs next week.
His presence has helped Miami (9-15-5, 32 points) come within striking distance of the final playoff spot. Miami has earned 10 of those points in Messi’s four league games, playing 3-0-1 with him in the lineup.
Messi did not play on Wednesday and as a result, Houston Dynamo took full advantage and won a trophy on its home field.
The first half was not an easy match for Messi; his team lost 2–0 at halftime
Lionel Messi takes the field during an Inter Miami CF training session in Florida on Friday
In Messi’s absence, Dynamo’s Griffin Dorsey and Amine Bassi scored first-half goals and Houston – with NBA star James Harden, part of the team’s ownership group, watching from the stands – topped Inter Miami 2-1 to win the US Open Cup.
Josef Martinez scored for Inter Miami in second-half stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough as Messi could only watch from the team bench.
Inter Miami coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said on Wednesday night that “it was not wise” to play Messi against Houston, although he indicated the team expects him to play on Saturday when the club’s MLS matches resume. Messi will be further evaluated until then.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was subbed off in the first half against Toronto on September 20 due to a leg problem and did not play in the team’s 1-1 draw in Orlando on Sunday. That was the third game he has missed altogether (two for club, one for country) in the past two weeks, and missing a final on Wednesday suggests the problem could be worse than the team has suggested.
Suddenly on the rise, NYCFC will be hoping they can do enough to get the crucial three points that come with a win on Saturday night.
Messi sat next to his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, to watch Miami play in the final
NYCFC (8-10-13, 37 points) are trying to make it three straight wins for the first time this year and have scored eight goals during a five-match unbeaten streak (3-0-2), moving them up to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC starts the week with the same points total as CF Montreal, but with three fewer wins.
“We’re going to have to be as good as we can defensively,” NYCFC coach Nick Cushing said. ‘We have been good in recent weeks, so we have to keep that going.’
With three games to go, NYCFC look to fend off DC United, who they visit next week and are one point ahead. NYCFC is also three ahead of the New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire.
NYCFC kept the streak intact on Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 home win over Toronto FC. Andres Perea scored in the second minute, while Andres Jasson and Julian Fernandez also scored as NYCFC scored three goals for the third time this year.