Inter Miami CF’s highly anticipated U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo FC took an unexpected turn when Lionel Messi was not named in the squad. The star player, who is dealing with a muscle injury he picked up while playing for Argentina, was unable to participate in the crucial match. Manager Gerardo Martino had previously stated that Messi’s availability would be determined closer to game-time, leaving fans hopeful. However, when the lineup was revealed, Messi’s absence was confirmed.
Injury Woes Extend to Jordi Alba
Additionally, Inter Miami CF had to face the final without another key player, Jordi Alba, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate. Alba is currently recovering from an injury of his own, further weakening the team’s lineup. Both Messi and Alba were seen in the stands in street clothes shortly after kickoff, visibly disappointed by their inability to contribute on the field.
A Second Shot at Glory for Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami CF had set their sights on securing their second trophy after winning the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament, which featured teams from Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX. Their opponents, Houston Dynamo FC, were determined to add a second U.S. Open Cup to their trophy case, having previously won the prestigious cup in 2018. The stage was set for an intense showdown.
Anticipation and Devotion of Fans
Thousands of devoted fans had gathered in the Fort Lauderdale area, eagerly awaiting the Cup final. Many sported Messi jerseys, either in the blue and white of Argentina or the pink of Inter Miami CF, showcasing their unwavering support. As the gates opened, excitement filled the air, and the anticipation grew.
High Cost of Disappointment
However, the absence of Messi from the team sheet proved to be a costly disappointment for some fans. Ticket prices on secondary markets had skyrocketed, with prices ranging from $145 to nearly $4,000, reflecting the immense demand. Links to ticket sales were shared across the team’s social media channels, further fueling the anticipation. The realization that Messi would not be playing left some fans feeling let down.
Messi’s Struggles with Injury
Messi’s absence in the Cup final highlighted his battle with injuries throughout the season. Since returning from international duty with Argentina, he has been in and out of Miami’s lineup. A leg injury, related to an old scar tissue problem, has troubled the star player, causing him to miss crucial matches. In a recent loss to Atlanta United, Messi was unable to participate, and in the following game against Toronto FC, he was withdrawn after 30 minutes. Despite his absence, Inter Miami CF managed to secure a resounding 4-0 victory.
The Impact of Messi on Inter Miami CF
Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami CF in July, in what was a blockbuster deal, had brought a wave of excitement and hope to the club. His impact on the team has been remarkable, with his skill and leadership elevating the performance of the entire squad. Currently, Inter Miami CF finds themselves trailing New York City FC by five points in the standings for the final playoff spot. With only five games left to play and two games in hand, every match is crucial for the team’s MLS Cup playoff hopes.
The absence of Lionel Messi in Inter Miami CF’s U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo FC left fans disappointed and impacted the dynamics of the game. Messi’s ongoing struggle with injuries has been a cause for concern throughout the season, and this absence further highlighted the challenges he faces. Despite the setback, Inter Miami CF continues to strive for success, relying on their collective strength and determination to secure their position in the playoffs.