In the world of Major League Soccer (MLS), few names have garnered as much attention as Lionel Messi, especially since his high-profile move to Inter Miami. However, the recent uncertainty surrounding his availability for the upcoming match against Toronto FC has fans and pundits alike on tenterhooks.
Inter Miami's head coach, Gerardo Martino, during a press conference on Tuesday, remained non-committal about whether the soccer superstar would grace the field in the team's imminent face-off with Toronto. Messi was notably absent from Inter Miami's previous match against Atlanta, a decision attributed to "muscular fatigue."
The air of uncertainty was palpable when Martino was quizzed about the potential participation of Messi and his teammate, Jordi Alba, in the upcoming game. "Messi and [Jordi] Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that, we'll see if they're available to play and to what extent," Martino stated. He further highlighted the team's packed schedule, pointing out that starting Wednesday, Inter Miami would be playing six matches in a mere 18 days, averaging a game every three days. This rigorous lineup includes the much-anticipated Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
Martino was effusive in his praise for the team's spirit and dedication. "Every player on Inter Miami's roster wants to play all games. That is the mentality of our group," he remarked. He emphasized the importance of player welfare during such a hectic period, noting that one of his primary responsibilities is ensuring the health and well-being of his players.
The absence of Messi in the recent match against Atlanta was particularly felt, as Inter Miami's impressive 11-match unbeaten streak came to a screeching halt with a 5-2 defeat. This marked the first time Messi was sidelined since his July transfer to the club. Additionally, Messi had previously missed Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia due to a muscle injury.
Despite the recent setback, Inter Miami has had a season to remember. They clinched the Leagues Cup title last month, ensuring their spot in next year's Concacaf Champions Cup and securing a bye in the opening round. As they set their sights on a second trophy, their immediate focus remains on securing a position in the MLS Cup playoffs, starting with the match against Toronto FC and followed by an away game against Orlando City SC.
It's worth noting that Inter Miami's previous encounter with Toronto ended in a 2-0 defeat. However, that was before the team was bolstered by the additions of Barcelona legends Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Alba, as well as promising young talents like Facundo Farías, Diego Gómez, and Tomás Avilés.