Lionel Messi got substituted in the 37th minute of Inter Miami's Major League Soccer (MLS) fixture against Toronto FC today. It was then confirmed that Messi was knocked out of the game due to muscle fatigue. The injury, however, didn't affect Inter Miami's performance as the Herons clinched a comfortable 4-0 win at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida. Inter Miami coach Gerardo Tata Martino said that Messi will not be available for Inter Miami in the next MLS fixture against Orlando City on Sunday.
Former Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba may also not start against Orlando City due to injury issues. Martino will desperately want both Messi and Alba to be absolutely fit and ready for the US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo next Wednesday.
"There is no chance they will be there on Sunday. I know we have a final to play [next Wednesday] but they won't go near the pitch if they can't play. They trained normally and we felt like they were ready to play. I don't believe it's anything new or anything worse than what they had before. It's fatigue. We don't think it's a muscular injury. That's also from a conversation that I just had with him. But we have to continue being careful and we'll look at him the next few days," Martino told reporters.
Alba had to use ice on his right hamstring after he came off the pitch ten minutes before halftime. Messi also left the field just two minutes later. "Messi and Jordi had to come out. It was two unexpected substitutions. We will evaluate them in these days," the Inter Miami coach said at half-time.
It was just the eighth time that Lionel Messi had to be substituted before halftime in his whole career. Moreover, it was his first substitution before halftime since October 2018. The Argentine had a great chance to open the scoring in the 23rd minute. But just 14 minutes later, he had to leave the field.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was replaced by Robert Taylor who scored a brace and provided an assist to earn a resounding 4-0 win for Inter Miami. Inter Miami are currently five points behind D.C. United who occupy the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference MLS standings.