Lionel Messi Departs Early in 1st Half for Inter Miami against Toronto due to Leg Issue
Lionel Messi's short-lived return to Inter Miami's lineup was cut short due to a leg issue, raising concerns about his fitness.
Lionel Messi made his return to Inter Miami's lineup on Wednesday night, but unfortunately, it was short-lived. In the 37th minute of the match against Toronto, Messi was subbed off due to what seemed to be a leg issue. This came after he had already missed two matches, one for his club and another for his country, due to fatigue.
However, it now appears that Messi may be dealing with some sort of injury. The game was scoreless when he was subbed out, and he left for the locker room before halftime. This was a significant blow for Inter Miami, as another key player, Jordi Alba, had to leave the game in the 34th minute as well.
Coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino mentioned that both players will be evaluated in the coming days, but did not provide any specific details. Messi had a couple of chances during the match but seemed to abruptly stop running after carrying the ball deep into the Toronto box. He appeared to be stretching his legs and eventually took off his captain's armband before waiting for play to stop so he could leave the field.
It's uncertain when Messi will wear the captain's band again, as he didn't even wait to come off the field before unlacing his cleats and removing his shin guards. This injury comes at a challenging time for Inter Miami, as they have a packed schedule ahead with six matches in 17 days.
Their next match is against Orlando on Sunday, followed by the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston on September 27. They will then have three more MLS matches in quick succession. This stretch will be even more daunting if Messi is unable to play. Inter Miami is currently seven points behind DC United for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with two matches in hand.
The Atlanta game ended Inter Miami's 12-match unbeaten streak since Messi joined the team in July. During this period, they had a record of 8-0-4, with three of those matches resulting in ties that they eventually won on penalty kicks. Messi has been a key contributor to the team's success, scoring 11 goals and providing five assists in his appearances.
While most of his matches have been in cup competitions, he has also made an impact in the MLS with one goal and two assists in four matches. The absence of Messi will undoubtedly be felt by Inter Miami, but the team will have to find a way to continue their strong form without him.