Messi leaves Inter Miami game with apparent injury 4:59

(CNN Spanish) -- Lionel Messi wasn't even among the substitutes in his Inter Miami's loss to the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night. The ailment that drags for some weeks keeps him away from the courts, despite the fact that coach Gerardo Martino said days that he believes there is no muscle injury.

Messi watched the match intently from one of the boxes at Orlando's Exploria Stadium, and was overshadowed as his team failed to win the second title in its short history.

After playing for Argentina in the start of the South American qualifiers against Ecuador in Buenos Aires on September 7, when he scored the winning goal of the world champion from a free kick, he did not participate in the next meeting with the albiceleste, five days later, in the 3-0 victory in La Paz against Bolivia.

  • Houston Dynamo win US Open Cup after beating Inter Miami without Messi

On his return to the United States, he was absent from Inter Miami's 5-2 win over Atlanta away on September 16, and although he returned to the starting line-up four days later in the home game against Toronto, he played just 37 minutes and had to be replaced.

After that game, Inter Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said Messi was not expected to be replaced so quickly, and spoke of "fatigue."

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Lionel Messi watches from the living room before the 2023 US Open Cup final soccer match between Inter Miami CF and Houston Dynamo FC at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sept. 27, 2023. (Photo: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Adding to the uncertainty, the club gave no official information about the Argentine star's physical condition, and Martino said the day before the final that he would wait for Messi until the last moment. However, both he and the Spaniard Jordi Alba could not participate in the final on Wednesday, where the Miami team fell 1-2 to Houston Dynamo.

The calendar of Inter and the Argentine national team

Inter Miami has a tight schedule ahead in which it must add the most points to aspire to qualify for the playoffs, a difficult goal at this stage of the tournament. The team led by Martino has 32 points with 29 games played in the Eastern Conference, and is 5 units of New York Fity FC, who marches in ninth place and, for now, is the last of the teams that would access the so-called "wild card game", which grants an extra place in the definition phase, To which the first 7 teams of each conference access (the one that adds more points of the 29 teams, will access directly to the quarterfinals.

Inter have five games left to close their participation in the regular phase, and must add as many points as possible to aspire to a place in the dispute for the title. The first of them will be next Saturday at home just against New York, in a key duel.

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On October 4, Inter Miami will visit the Chicago Fire, and three days later it will be at home against Cincinnatti, comfortable leader of the Eastern Conference and the team that has scored the most points in all of MLS so far this season.

Inter Miami's last two games in the MLS regular phase will be on October 18 against Charlotte at home, and three days later it will face the same opponent, but as a visitor.

However, in the middle will be played the third and fourth date of the South American qualifiers, in which Argentina marches first with ideal score, product of two wins in two games.

On Thursday, October 12, Argentina will be home in Buenos Aires against Paraguay, which will debut its new technical director, the Argentine Daniel Garnero, who will succeed his compatriot Guillermo Barros Schelotto, dismissed days ago. And on Tuesday, October 17, the team led by Lionel Scaloni will visit Lima to face Peru.

Therefore, the big unknown in the coming days will be the physical condition of Lionel Messi. Inter Miami needs him to try to reach the MLS playoffs, and Argentina awaits him for the continuity of the qualifiers. And the question is installed: when will the Flea play again?

Lionel Messi