Lionel Messi will 'surely play again', says Inter Miami manager after Argentina star's absence in US Open Cup final loss
Lionel Messi did not feature in the U.S. Open Cup final match due to injury issues, as the side faced a 1-2 defeat to Houston Dynamo.
Lionel Messi failed to take part in Inter Miami’s U.S. Open Cup final match due to injury issues. Messi’s absence proved to be costly as Inter Miami conceded a 1-2 defeat to Houston Dynamo at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida. Following the defeat, Inter Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino said that Messi will return to action this season.
“It was clearly not prudent for him to play, not even for a few minutes. We couldn't take the risk. But he will surely play again before the end of the season. His participation will be determined game by game based on the medical team's feedback,” Martino was quoted as saying by ESPN.
This was Inter Miami’s fourth fixture without Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar had previously missed two of Inter Miami’s matches due to his international duty. Later, he missed one more game for the Herons because of injury.
Lionel Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba also did not take part in the U.S. Open Cup final match. The Spaniard sat out the defeat due to his own injury issues. The Inter Miami duo were substituted in the first half of the Major League Soccer (MLS) game against Toronto FC last week. Both Messi and Alba were spotted in the stands during the U.S. Open Cup summit clash.
Houston Dynamo made full use of the absence of the two big names as they earned a lead in the 24th minute of the game. Houston Dynamo doubled their lead just nine minutes later. Inter Miami’s Josef Martinez brought the deficit down to goal in the 92nd minute. But it was too late as Inter Miami conceded a 2-1 defeat. Houston Dynamo claimed their second U.S. Open Cup trophy after lifting it five years back.
"Today, I saw a worn-out and tired team. We were also limited by the injuries, so our performance was affected by those circumstances,” Martino said after the game.
Lionel Messi’s summer transfer move to Inter Miami has so far proved to be quite fruitful. Since arriving in Miami in July, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has till now netted 11 goals having made 12 appearances for Inter Miami. He has already guided Inter Miami to Leagues Cup triumph this season.
Having missed out on the U.S. Open Cup title, Inter Miami will now be aiming to confirm a playoff berth in the MLS. They are currently placed in 14th position in the Eastern Conference of the MLS standings. Inter Miami are right now five points behind New York City, who claim the final playoff spot on the points table. In their next fixture, Inter Miami will be up against New York City in the MLS.