Lionel Messi substituted after just 37 minutes in Miami return

Lionel Messi substituted after just 37 minutes in Miami return

Lionel Messi made a brief return to the lineup for Inter Miami on Wednesday night, but it was a fleeting comeback.

During Inter Miami’s match against Toronto, Messi had to be substituted off in the 37th minute due to what seemed to be a leg issue.

He was seen stretching during the game and eventually removed his captain’s armband, patiently waiting for a stoppage in play to exit the field. He wasted no time in unlacing his cleats, pulling down his socks, and removing his shin guards.

The 36-year-old had recently missed two matches, one for his club and another for his country. He sat out Argentina’s World Cup qualifying victory against Bolivia on September 12 and Inter Miami’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta United the preceding Saturday.

Fatigue was cited as the reason for his absence on both occasions. Messi has not been available for comment in recent days regarding his condition.

Wednesday’s game marked the start of a grueling schedule for Inter Miami, with six matches scheduled in just 17 days. The team’s next fixtures include a match in Orlando on Sunday and hosting Houston in the U.S. Open Cup final on September 27.

Following that, they have three more MLS matches in quick succession: against New York City FC on September 30, an away game in Chicago on October 4, and a home match against Cincinnati on October 7.

As of Wednesday, Inter Miami was trailing DC United by seven points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with two games in hand.

The Atlanta game brought an end to Inter Miami’s impressive 12-match unbeaten streak since Messi’s debut for the team against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup on July 21.

During that streak, Inter Miami recorded eight wins, four draws (three of which were decided in their favor through penalty shootouts), and clinched their first-ever trophy in the Leagues Cup, along with a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

Messi’s contributions to the team included 11 goals and five assists in various cup competitions, along with one goal and two assists in four MLS matches.