Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023|
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Lionel Messi was not on Inter Miami’s roster for the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston on Wednesday night, marking the fourth match for club and country that he’s missed in recent weeks while dealing with some sort of leg issue.
And it’s unclear if Messi will continue to be sidelined with Inter Miami resumes its push to make Major League Soccer’s playoffs this weekend.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was subbed out of a match against Toronto on Sept. 20 in the first half because of a leg issue, and did not play in the team’s 1-1 draw at Orlando on Sunday. That was the third match he missed in its entirety — two for club, one for country — in the last two weeks, and missing a final on Wednesday suggests the problem could be worse than the team has suggested.
Also out for Wednesday: Jordi Alba, another of Inter Miami’s celebrated midseason acquisitions. Alba has a leg injury and his status for upcoming matches is unknown.
The 36-year-old Messi missed Argentina’s World Cup qualifying win at Bolivia on Sept. 12 and Inter Miami’s 5-2 loss at Atlanta United on Sept. 16.
He returned for the Sept. 20 match, but didn’t even make it to halftime, then sat out Sunday.
There were downpours in the Fort Lauderdale area late Wednesday afternoon, yet thousands of fans — many of them wearing Messi jerseys either in the blue and white of Argentina or the pink of Inter Miami — showed up long before the gates opened for the Cup final, if for no other reason than to watch the team buses arrive.
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