Inter Miami's star player, Lionel Messi, is currently grappling with "muscle fatigue," confirmed the team's coach, Gerardo 'Tata' Martino.
Messi's absence from the pitch was evident as Miami faced a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Atlanta United, dealing a blow to their playoff aspirations.
Martino stressed the importance of prioritising 36-year-old Messi's well-being over rushing him back into action. He said that it would have been "very reckless" to field the Argentine superstar in the Atlanta match.
Martino's primary focus is on preparing his team for the upcoming September 27th final of the US Open Cup, where Miami will host Houston, aiming to secure their second trophy of the season.
Regarding Messi's recovery, Martino said, "They will train tomorrow (Sunday), and we will see day by day. Nothing changes our outlook on how he (Messi) will train. We have no urgency."
The cautious approach ensures Messi's readiness without compromising his health.
In their next MLS encounter, Miami will face Toronto, the only team situated below them in the Eastern Conference standings. Martino reiterated that Messi's return to the pitch depends on his well-being and confidence, with no undue pressure to hasten his comeback.
The recent loss to Atlanta United snapped Miami's impressive 12-game unbeaten streak in all competitions since the arrival of Messi, along with Spanish duo Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets in July. The defeat has made it more challenging for Miami to secure a top-nine spot in the Eastern Conference, a prerequisite for playoff qualification.
Despite this setback, Martino remains steadfast in his pursuit of the US Open Cup title.
"The final is one game. It's very tempting to go for a title," he affirmed. While the playoff race is still on their radar, Martino's sights are firmly set on the upcoming Cup final on the 27th.
Lionel Messi also sat out Argentina's recent World Cup qualifier against Bolivia, watching from the bench as his teammates battled in La Paz on Tuesday.
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Green Shirts will take on India on October 14
The final is scheduled to take place on September 30 at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium in Nepal
Green Shirts will lock horns with arch-rivals India on October 14
Previously, World Cup of 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 were won by the top two-ranked teams