Inter Miami weighing up Lionel Messi injury 'risk' ahead of US Open Cup final

Lionel Messi in action for Inter Miami against Atlanta United in the Leagues Cup in July 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Inter Miami are weighing up the 'risk' of picking Lionel Messi for Wednesday night's US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo.

Messi came off after 37 minutes against Toronto FC last Wednesday with an injury and did not feature in Monday's draw at Orlando City.

Speaking in a pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Miami coach Gerardo Martino said: "We will decide tomorrow based on how he's feeling.

"Here, there are questions. The player, the [US 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."

Meanwhile, Houston Dynamo coach Ben Olsen is expecting to see Messi on the pitch in the final.

"We're pretty sure he'll play," Olsen said in his press conference on Tuesday. "We'll prepare for them in that way. They've got some options if that isn't the case. But we'll prepare for their best line-up unless we hear something more concrete."

And on how he might stop Messi, Olsen said: "There's been thousands of coaches that have tried to stop him and thousands of coaches have failed constantly, so I don't have the magic bullet to stop Messi."

Messi has already led Inter Miami to the Leagues Cup since signing in July and could add a second trophy on Wednesday.

The Florida outfit are unbeaten in the 12 matches in which he has featured, but face a battle to reach the MLS playoffs with five fixtures remaining after Wednesday's cup final against Houston.

More Lionel Messi stories

Barcelona president Joan Laporta claims Messi was 'very close' to a return to the Catalan club before he joined Inter Miami.

Messi has been joined in Miami by former Barcelona team-mates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, but there will be no reunion with his close friend Luis Suarez – for now at least.

Meanwhile, some MLS sides play on artificial grass and it is unclear whether Messi will be prepared to feature on that surface. His presence against Charlotte in October is therefore in doubt.

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