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Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba Exists Inter Miami Win Against Toronto FC Over Injury

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In the 37th minute of Inter Miami CF’s 4-0 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday, Lionel Messi was taken off the field owing to muscle exhaustion, just a few minutes after his former Barcelona colleague Jordi Alba.

Alba and Messi will be assessed in the following days, according to Miami coach Gerardo Martino, but neither player will be available to play against Orlando City on Sunday so they can be ready for the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo next Wednesday.

Messi and Alba who both started the match after skipping Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta United FC. Despite not participating in any particularly intense challenges or visibly limping, Messi and Alba were plainly in pain.

After leaving the pitch, both players headed straight to the bench rather than the locker room. Miami’s Facundo Faras then scored a goal to give the home team a 1-0 lead at the half. Following a second-half goal by Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor added two more amazing goals to secure the three points.

Messi showed early signs of being in good form and missed a great opportunity when his close-range far-post volley went over the bar in the 23rd minute. However, 15 minutes later, it became apparent that the Argentine was laboring as a result of a medical problem, and Taylor was brought in to take his place.

Only four minutes had passed after Alba left before Messi. Before the Miami players exited the game, Toronto made two more substitutes, with Victor Vasquez—another former Barcelona youth player—being forced off in the 12th minute. Just 14 minutes later, his substitute, Brandon Servania, had to be helped off due to what appeared to be a knee injury.

Messi spent some time addressing what seemed to be a leg ailment prior to coming off. When the game was in progress, he was stretching his right leg. Later, he removed his captain’s armband and waited for it to end so he could leave. He didn’t even wait to leave the pitch before taking off his cleats, lowering his socks, and taking off his shin guards.

Messi had recently missed Argentina’s World Cup qualifying triumph at Bolivia on September 12 and the loss to Atlanta. He had also missed his previous two matches, one for club and the other for nation.

Both incidents involved mentions of fatigue, and Messi was not made available for remark.

Inter Miami played their first of six games over the course of 17 days on Wednesday. Miami plays three more MLS games in quick succession after the games against Orlando on Sunday and Houston in the Open Cup on September 27. The games are against New York City FC on September 30, away at Chicago Fire FC on October 4, and at home against FC Cincinnati on October 7.

With two games remaining, the outcome puts Miami five points behind D.C. United, which drew 1-1 with Cincinnati on Wednesday, for the final Eastern Conference playoff place.

Messi had played for Miami in 11 games as of Wednesday, the majority of which were Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup contests. In the first 11 games, he recorded 11 goals and 5 assists, including 1 goal and 2 assists in 3 MLS games.

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