Ross Davenport4 minutes of reading
Both Messi and Alba started the game in Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Atlanta United FC, neither engaging in particularly serious challenges nor stumbling to watch, but clearly in some sort of physical discomfort.
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Both players went straight to the bench rather than the locker room after leaving the field, and Miami’s Facundo Farias scored shortly after to give the home team a 1-0 lead at halftime. Robert Taylor scored two superb goals either side of Benjamin Gremachi in the second half to secure three points for Gerardo Martino’s side.
Messi looked lively early on and had a golden opportunity in the 23rd minute when his long-range volley crashed over the bar from close range. However, after 15 minutes it became clear that the Argentine was laboring with some physical problems and he was replaced by Taylor.
Alba left four minutes before Messi. Toronto made two substitutions before the Miami duo left the game, with another former Barcelona youth player — Victor Vasquez — forced off in the 12th minute. He was replaced by Brandon Servania, who limped off with a knee injury after 14 minutes.
Messi spent a few minutes dealing with what appeared to be a foot problem before coming off. He was stretching during the game, then eventually took off his captain’s armband and waited until the game stopped so he could take off — not even waiting to leave the field before taking off his cleats, pulling down his socks and removing his shin guards.
Sep. Messi has missed his last two matches — one for club, the other for country — in recent days after Argentina’s World Cup qualifier win in Bolivia on 12 and Saturday’s loss to Atlanta.
Fatigue was cited in both cases, and Messi was unavailable for comment.
Wednesday’s match was Inter Miami’s first of six in 17 days. The team next plays Orlando City SC on Sunday and then hosts Houston Dynamo FC in the US Open Cup final on September 27. Three more MLS matches followed in short order: against New York City FC on September 30, Chicago Fire FC on October. 4, and FC Cincinnati on Oct. Conducts on 7
The result leaves Miami five points behind DC United, who drew 1-1 with Cincinnati on Wednesday, with two games in hand in the Eastern Conference.
Messi entered Wednesday having made 11 appearances for Miami, most of them in the League Cup and US Open Cup. He had 11 goals and five assists in those first 11 games, including one goal with two assists in three MLS matches.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.