Is Lionel Messi injured or fatigued?
It might be a matter of both, following Messi’s early exit during Inter Miami’s 4-0 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino confirmed Messi and fellow former FC Barcelona standout Jordi Alba will not play Sunday against Orlando City. Both are considered day to day as the club is in the midst of a six-match stretch spanning 18 days.
"Basically, Leo is still dealing with his old scar tissue, and Jordi with muscle pain," Martino said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday. The scar tissue problem first arose while with the Argentina national team earlier this month.
While Sunday's match is important for Inter Miami's push to the MLS postseason, the club is also focused on a title they can win next week in the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo on Sept. 27.
What time is the Inter Miami game vs. Orlando City?
Sunday's game in Orlano is scheduled for 7:30 p.m ET. The game will be streamed on Apple TV.
Could Lionel Messi miss the U.S. Open Cup final?
It could be a possibility Inter Miami plays without Messi and/or Alba for the U.S. Open Cup final.
"We have to go day by day to see the doctor's report and what they are telling us. We will follow them," Martino said.
"I know we have a final, but there is no way they will enter the field if they are not in a position to do so."
More on Lionel Messi’s injury status from Inter Miami’s coach
Martino said Messi is dealing with an injury from his past, along with a grueling stretch of 12 matches in 48 days to begin his Inter Miami career.
"It is a scar from an old injury that bothers him," Martino said of Messi.
Messi also was examined while with Argentina's National Team for two World Cup qualifying games earlier this month. Martino said those images showed Messi did not have a muscle injury.
"He had an old injury that had been bothering him. The scans he had with the national team, they didn’t show any injury. We still saved him to be safe," Martino said of Messi after the match Wednesday.
"We don’t think he has a muscular injury. That’s also from a conversation I just had with him. But we have to continue being careful. And we’ll look at it the next few days."
Lionel Messi appeared tired before his exit against Toronto
Messi was either fatigued or felt something during the 34th minute before his exit against Toronto.
Messi was bent over in the middle area of the field. He appeared to stretch his right leg out and was tending to the calf area of his leg.
The sequence came after he aggressively tried to run from midfield toward the box, where his approach was cut off by a defender, forcing him out wide and away from the net.
Two minutes later, Messi was surrendering the captain’s armband and heading to the sidelines.
How did Lionel Messi look in his return to action?
Messi was unable to score or deliver an assist in his 37 minutes of action against Toronto, but he had several attempts on goal during his time on the pitch.
Messi’s most explosive opportunity was a right strike missed on a volleyed pass from Facundo Farías, but the shot was too high. Messi’s charge toward the net on the attempt was admirable and nearly set the stage for a highlight goal in the 23rd minute.
Earlier, Messi found some space and fired a left boot toward the net, but his shot was caught by Toronto FC goalie in the 18th minute.
In another sequence, Messi was caught in a crowd of Toronto players, and his shot hit off one of them to end the threat.
How many games has Lionel Messi missed?
Messi returned to the pitch for the Toronto game after missing his past two matches, accumulating 13 days off.
Messi did not travel with Inter Miami for its 5-2 loss to Atlanta United in Atlanta on Sept. 16 after returning from the Argentine National Team.
Messi also missed the second of two games with Argentina, a 3-0 win over Bolivia, to rest.
How many games has Lionel Messi played recently?
Before Messi’s action against Toronto, he had 13 days off.
Messi appeared in 12 matches during a 48-day stretch, from July 21 to Sept. 7.
The stretch ended with Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying, where Messi scored on a free kick in the 78th minute.
The other 11 matches were with Inter Miami, where Messi led the club to a 10-1-0 (win-draw-loss) record with 11 goals scored, and the Leagues Cup title against Nashville SC on Aug. 19.
Where does Inter Miami stand in the MLS playoff race?
With six MLS matches remaining (not counting the U.S. Open Cup final), Inter Miami has 31 points in the Eastern Conference standings.
Inter Miami is ranked 13th out of 15 teams, but only five points away from the ninth and final playoff spot, where D.C. United sits with 36 points.
What is Inter Miami's remaining 2023 schedule?
Sept. 24: at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
Sept. 27: vs. Houston Dynamo FC (U.S. Open Cup final), 8:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 30: vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 4: at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 7: vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 18: vs. Charlotte FC, 8 p.m. ET
Oct. 21: at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m. ET
Like the rest of MLS, all of Inter Miami's games are available to watch via the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV — except for the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 27, which will be available to stream on the CBS Sports Golazo Network. Keep in mind that should Messi lead Inter Miami to the MLS playoffs, some of those postseason games also could be broadcast on FOX.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi injury: Inter Miami MLS star to miss game at Orlando City