Lionel Messi Rests as Inter Miami Falls to Atlanta Without Star
Lionel Messi Sits Out First MLS Match Since Joining Miami
Lionel Messi did not travel or play in Inter Miami’s Saturday match against Atlanta United, marking the first Major League Soccer (MLS) game he has missed since joining the club in July.
A source within the club told media outlets that the decision to rest Messi was made due to the number of matches he has played recently, including the World Cup in Qatar. The source noted that the artificial turf field at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium did not factor into the choice to have Messi sit out.
At 36 years old, managing Messi’s minutes and avoiding overuse injuries is undoubtedly a priority for Inter Miami. The team has leaned heavily on its new superstar attacker since his arrival, playing him in multiple positions and making him the focal point of the attack.
Speculation About Lionel Messi and Turf Fields
In the buildup to the Atlanta match, there had been some speculation about whether Messi would play on the artificial turf surface. Messi himself had downplayed concerns about turf when he was introduced by Inter Miami, noting he had played on such surfaces extensively in his youth in Argentina.
The debate over soccer and turf fields has heated up recently in American soccer circles. Big-name stars like Messi have prompted discussion about whether turf puts top players at higher risk for injury than natural grass.
This discussion intensified when NFL legend Aaron Rodgers suffered a significant Achilles injury during a game on turf. However, Inter Miami confirmed Messi’s absence in Atlanta was purely down to workload management.
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Miami Falls 3-1 Without Lionel Messi
Inter Miami sorely missed its biggest star and offensive catalyst on the field. Atlanta jumped out to a 3-0 lead by halftime and cruised to a 3-1 victory.
Messi had not trained with the team in the days leading up to the match. The day before the game, he posted a photo of a pizza delivery in Miami to his Instagram account.
Manager Phil Neville explained the club is being cautious with Messi’s minutes due to a congested upcoming schedule. Miami has home and away matches against Toronto FC, followed directly by two October matches against Charlotte FC.
Lionel Messi’s Busy Schedule Prompts Rest
In addition to his MLS commitments with Inter Miami, Messi continues to represent Argentina in World Cup qualifying matches. He played in the recent international break, appearing as a substitute against Bolivia after sitting out a qualifier against Ecuador.
Messi will likely be called again in October, with Argentina facing Paraguay and Peru in crucial CONMEBOL qualifiers. Inter Miami felt the October club vs. country dynamic necessitated resting Messi now to keep him fresh.
Since signing with Miami in July, Messi has been ever-present when available. He has played 90 minutes in every MLS match he has suited up for, quickly becoming the team’s most important player.
At his age and mileage, Miami seems intent on managing his workload carefully, even if it means sacrificing results. Saturday’s loss dropped Miami further from playoff position.
Lionel Messi’s Arrival Sparks Miami Turnaround
Despite the loss in Atlanta, Inter Miami has undergone a dramatic turnaround since Messi’s much-hyped arrival. Miami had gone nine straight MLS matches without a win before Messi’s debut.
Since his debut on August 7, the team has only lost once, claiming a trophy by winning the 2022 Campeones Cup on penalties over Liga MX’s Club America.
Messi only featured briefly in that match due to injury, but his presence has provided an enormous boost. Inter Miami has jumped from eleventh to sixth in the Eastern Conference during its resurgence.
With seven regular season matches remaining, Miami is still in contention for a playoff spot. The club will hope its decision to rest Messi now pays dividends in the season’s critical final stretch.