Both Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba were forced out of Inter Miami’s MLS clash with Toronto on Wednesday in a huge blow to Tata Martino’s side.
Alba had ice on his right hamstring after he came out ten minutes before the end of the first half at DRV PNK Stadium.
Messi cut a similarly frustrated figure a couple of minutes later when he handed over the armband and was replaced just 37 minutes into his return to MLS action. It’s thought he has suffered a muscle injury.
The 36-year-old was back in the team after missing the team’s 5-2 loss at Atlanta on Saturday with what coach Martino described as ‘muscle fatigue’.
That defeat further dented Miami’s hopes of reaching the playoffs but Messi took a full part in training on Tuesday and he went straight back into the starting XI.
Both Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba were forced out of Inter Miami’s MLS clash with Toronto
Messi hands over the armband over to DeAndre Yedlin as he heads from the field
Messi had not played for Miami since September 4 after going on international duty and missing both the Atlanta defeat and the team’s victory over Kansas City.
Shortly after the double blow, Facundo Farias volleyed Miami into the lead as they look to keep alive their postseason hopes.
Messi was then seen heading down the tunnel at DRV PNK Stadium. He was walking unaided but appeared to tweak something shortly before leaving the field. His body language told the story: his night was over.
‘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,’ Martino said before the game.
‘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.’
Miami started the game second bottom of the Eastern Conference, seven points off the playoff places with six regular season matches to play.
Last weekend, thousands of fans were left distraught after traveling across the country to see their hero play in Atlanta – only to learn that he had stayed back in Miami.
Messi had not played for Miami since September 4 after going on international duty