Inter Miami CF coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said Tuesday that Lionel Messi’s availability for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final will come down to a game-time decision.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s final against the Houston Dynamo, Martino said he will meet with Messi over the next two days to determine whether he can play: “We will decide tomorrow based on how he’s feeling,” and added that Jordi Alba is also doubtful for the match. The former Barcelona teammates both started last Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Toronto FC, but then left late in the first half. They also didn’t travel with the team for Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC. Messi, who also missed Miami’s loss in Atlanta 10 days ago, is said to be dealing with an old scar tissue problem, while Alba continues to deal with muscle soreness.
Speaking of Messi, Martino said: “In this case, we sit with him asking how he feels. Maybe other players, one makes a decision, but here we will make a decision we are in agreement over. Here, there are questions. The player, the [U.S. Open Cup] final, and what comes after. These three scenarios have to be evaluated; it is not just about the next game. Risk is always there, but we try to decrease the margin of risk .. If it wasn’t a final, we wouldn’t take any risk, but because it is a final, there is a chance we take that risk.”
Martino also said: “We are not trying to be mysterious with Leo. I say this with knowledge because of my time with Atlanta. Weekly there are reports of injuries and which players travel and don’t travel. This is a special situation. And if Leo were not here, we would not be discussing this. This is part of football. We are talking about the best player in football, and I have to give an answer that could affect the structure of the rival team. Why should I give that information if I can keep it to myself? We understand the desire [for the fans] to know, but we are not trying to be mysterious. We have a real situation.”
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