Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Inter Miami CF’s head coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, indicated on Tuesday that Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets are expected to reclaim their spots in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s home clash against Nashville SC.
The former Barcelona luminaries made impactful appearances from the bench around the 60-minute mark during Saturday’s victorious 2-0 away fixture against the New York Red Bulls. Notably, Messi marked his debut in Major League Soccer with a goal. These seasoned players had previously featured for the full duration in their preceding six matches.
Martino expressed his thoughts, saying, “I believe the last match in New York was the right time for [Messi] to have some well-deserved rest, as it was for Busquets. If there are no unforeseen issues, [Messi] is likely to start.”
Miami is gearing up for their first home MLS game following the acquisition of six new signings during the transfer window. Their opponents will be Nashville, the same team they overcame in the Leagues Cup final a few weekends ago, securing their maiden trophy in the club’s history. To have a shot at clinching the MLS Cup, Inter Miami must amass victories promptly.
Currently, Miami languishes in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference, trailing the final playoff spot by 11 points with just 11 games remaining.
A potential stumbling block in their quest for points could be the impending international breaks scheduled for September 4-12 and October 10-17. Fortunately, Inter Miami has only one fixture during this period – a home encounter with Sporting Kansas City on September 9th.
However, Martino revealed after Saturday’s triumph that Messi might miss three Inter Miami matches this season while representing Argentina. He acknowledged this as a challenge they must adapt to, stating, “He’s going to miss at least three games – he’ll be called up for his national team – and we must continue winning.”
Argentina’s upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Ecuador on September 7th and Bolivia on September 12th coincide with Miami’s MLS fixtures on September 3rd and September 16th.
Another international break occurs from October 10-17, potentially causing Messi to miss the game against Charlotte FC. This match had initially been scheduled for August 20 but was rescheduled to October 18.
In addition to Messi, Martino may also have to cope without up to 11 other players for the Sporting KC game, including key defenders DeAndre Yedlin (United States), Kamal Miller (Canada), and Serhiy Kryvtsov (Ukraine). Reports suggest that Jordi Alba is retiring from Spain duty. Goalkeeper Drake Callender’s impressive form this season may earn him a call-up to the USMNT and consequently, cause him to miss the Kansas City match. Sporting KC currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference and has only secured one away victory all season.
Martino did share some optimism for the future, hinting that next season might be less hectic as Major League Soccer appears to be planning to officially incorporate all FIFA international breaks into their schedule, commencing in 2024. Until then, Martino’s primary focus remains on the upcoming contest against Nashville.
Nashville has faced a rough patch, losing six of their last seven MLS matches and failing to score in five of those defeats. A victory for Miami would bring them three points closer to New York City FC, who currently hold a five-point lead in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
In the MLS Cup Playoffs, the top nine teams from each conference qualify. The playoffs are set to commence on October 25-26 with Wild Card games between the eighth and ninth seeds in each conference. If Inter Miami can secure a higher position than eighth, their postseason campaign wouldn’t commence until at least October 28th.
In unrelated news, the club proudly announced on Monday that they have officially begun construction on their planned 25,000-seat stadium, Miami Freedom Park, slated to open in time for the 2025 season.”