Inter Miami manager provides crucial update on Lionel Messi's injury situation ahead of all-important US Open Cup final
Lionel Messi didn't train with Inter Miami ahead of the US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo FC.
Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has not ruled out Lionel Messi’s chances of taking part in the U.S. Open Cup final. It will come down to a game-time decision to determine Messi’s availability in the summit clash against Houston Dynamo, said Martino. In his last Inter Miami fixture, Messi came off the pitch in the 37th minute due to a reported leg injury against Toronto FC on September 20.
"We will decide tomorrow based on how he's feeling," said Martino, adding that defender Jordi Alba still remains to be a doubtful starter for the final game.
Both Messi and Alba were substituted in the first half during the Major League Soccer (MLS) match against Toronto FC. The two former Barcelona teammates did not even travel with the Inter Miami squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC. As per an ESPN report, Messi’s leg injury appears to be an old scar tissue problem. Alba, on the other hand, is understood to be dealing with muscle soreness.
While talking about Messi’s availability, Martino said, “In this case, we sit with him asking how he feels. Maybe other players, one makes a decision, but here we will make a decision we are in agreement over. Here, there are questions. The player, the [U.S. Open Cup] final, and what comes after. These three scenarios have to be evaluated; it is not just about the next game. Risk is always there, but we try to decrease the margin of risk."
"If it's not a final, we're not taking any risks. This is a final and it could bring you a title. It could take 90 or 120 minutes, but if it's another game we wouldn't risk it,” Martino added.
With three games to be played in next eight days, Inter Miami coach will be hoping for Messi and Alba’s quick recovery as his side are certainly going to face a fixture congestion. The Herons will be aiming to win their second trophy when they take the field against Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final. Inter Miami have already claimed the Leagues Cup this season.
Apart from conquering the U.S. Open Cup, Inter Miami will be determined to pull off an impressive series of performances in the MLS. With five MLS matches still to be played, 14th-placed Inter Miami are five points behind New York City FC who claim the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings. In their next MLS fixture, Inter Miami will host New York City FC at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida.