Sources: Messi on track to return Wednesday against Toronto

Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi is expected to return as a starter or from the bench Wednesday against Toronto FC, sources told ESPN Argentina. Messi, who missed Inter Miami’s 5-2 loss at Atlanta on Saturday due to what coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino called “muscular fatigue,” was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice. In a statement distributed to media before Miami’s training, Martino would not say whether Messi and Jordi Alba, who also missed Saturday’s defeat, would feature against the Canadian side, but sources said the World Cup winner will be available. “Messi and Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that we’ll see if they’re available to play and to what extent,” Martino said. “Beginning on Wednesday, we have six matches in 18 days, which is one match every three days, including the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.

“We have a lot of important matches in a short window of time, and one of my responsibilities as the coach is to care for my players and help them make the hard decisions that will give us the best chance of keeping everyone healthy during this busy run.” Messi trained twice last week after missing the World Cup qualifying match for Argentina against Bolivia but did not make the trip to Atlanta upon his return from international duty.          “From what I can see he looks good, he looks happy and ready to go,” Miami defender DeAndre Yedlin said after Tuesday’s training when questioned about Messi’s fitness. Yedlin admitted the team missed the Argentina star in their first loss since his arrival in July. “Obviously you talk about Leo, he’s the best player ever in the game, from the opponent’s standpoint it strikes a bit of fear in them as well”, Yedlin said.”Experience means a lot, especially in this league. As you saw in that Atlanta game where it’s up and down, up and down, [having Messi] helps slow the game down a bit.”

After Wednesday’s contest with last-placed Toronto, Miami will play a road match against in-state rival Orlando City SC on Sunday and then play Houston in the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 27. Martino said after Saturday’s loss that his rotations will be focused on the chance at a second trophy of the season. “The final is just one game, and we’re in it,” Martino said after the loss to his former team Atlanta United. “It’s very tempting to play for a title. Right now we have seven to eight [MLS] games left. And the reality is that it’s not a guarantee we’ll make the playoffs. “It doesn’t mean we won’t go for it, but it’s true that we’re focused on the 27th.” Miami has picked up one trophy already this season thanks to its Leagues Cup title last month, a win that secured qualification for next year’s Concacaf Champions Cup as well as a bye in the opening round.

Share article

Latest articles