Argentine star, Lionel Messi, was substituted just 37 minutes into his return to action for Inter Miami against Toronto FC in Major League Soccer (MLS) on Wednesday night.
Messi missed Saturday’s 5-2 defeat at Atlanta with what coach Gerardo Martino said was “muscle fatigue” after coming back from international duty with Argentina.
His former Barcelona team-mate, Jordi Alba, also missed the game but started on Wednesday and he also had to leave the field, limping off just three minutes before Messi.
“They had to come out, we will evaluate them in the coming days,” Martino said after the game.
Messi did not suffer any contact injury but looked in discomfort and was moving gingerly before handing his captain’s armband to team-mate DeAndre Yedlin and leaving the field.
Inter Miami, however, shrugged off an injury concern over the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to beat Toronto with Robert Taylor scoring twice as they boosted their playoff hopes.
Messi had played 12 games in a 48-day stretch after making his debut for Miami in late July.
He was substituted in the final minutes of Argentina’s 1-0 win over Ecuador in their South American World Cup qualifier on September 7 and then skipped their match at Bolivia, five days later.
Despite Saturday’s defeat, Miami, next to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, remain in with a chance of making the MLS playoffs but Martino has indicated his giving priority in his team selection and preparation for Miami’s US Open Cup final match against Houston on September 27.
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