Lionel Messi & Jordi Alba’s First-Half Subs Spoil Inter Miami’s Massive Victory Over Toronto FC

Lionel Messi Looking Pensive For Inter Miami
Lionel Messi Looking Pensive For Inter Miami

Eager to bounce back from last weekend’s 5-2 defeat to Atlanta United, Gerardo Martino’s Inter Miami welcomed Toronto FC to the DRV PNK Stadium for their Major League Soccer (MLS) clash on Wednesday night (September 20). The Herons performed admirably in front of their fans to secure an emphatic 4-0 win and keep their playoff hopes alive. However, Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba’s first-half substitutions dampened their celebrations.

What happened to Jordi Alba & Lionel Messi?

Before the clash against Toronto, Martino was unsure whether or not either of the former Barcelona superstars would be able to play. Ultimately, both were included in the starting XI, but it turned out to be an ill-advised move as neither managed to make it to halftime. In the 34th minute, Messi, who had missed the trip to Atlanta United, was seen tending to his right calf. Three minutes later, Robert Taylor was introduced in his place. A couple of minutes before Messi’s substitution, Alba left the field with discomfort, with Noah Allen replacing the struggling Spaniard.

When asked what happened to Messi and Alba, Martino said fatigue had gotten the better of the star duo. The Argentine tactician said (via @WeAreMessi):

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba felt like they were ready to play today, but fatigue got the better of them with the discomfort they had. We don’t think it’s anything major in terms of injury.”

When probed further, Martino said that an old scar was bothering Messi and that further investigation was needed to determine the extent of his discomfort. The manager added (via @BarcaWorldwide):

Is Messi injured or is it just fatigue?

It’s a scar from an old injury that has been bothering him… I don’t believe it’s a muscle injury; we’ll have to wait and see…

Robert Taylor Shines For Inter Miami

Robert Taylor, who came in for Messi in the 37th minute, was the star of the game against Toronto. The winger scored twice and claimed an assist to propel the hosts to a comfortable victory.

His first goal came in the 54th minute, with him finding the bottom left corner with a thumping shot from outside the box. In the 73rd minute, Taylor played a slide rule pass for Benjamin Cremaschi to chase down the right flank. The 18-year-old intercepted the pass and rolled it past the keeper. Fourteen minutes later, Taylor superbly doubled his tally, controlling a lobbed pass from Facundo Farias and finding the roof of the net with an unstoppable strike from a tight angle. Farias was the other goalscorer for Inter Miami on Wednesday, with him opening the scoring in the first-half injury time.

Inter Miami fans have every right to be worried over Messi’s availability in Sunday’s (September 24) clash with Orlando City. But if Taylor and Co. can keep up the good work, the Herons should fancy themselves getting another great result without their legendary Argentine.

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