The Absence of Lionel Messi: A Blow to Inter Miami CF’s U.S. Open Cup Final Hopes

Inter Miami CF’s dreams of winning the U.S. Open Cup were shattered when Lionel Messi was not named in the squad for the final showdown against Houston Dynamo FC. The Argentine superstar was dealing with a muscle injury that he had picked up while playing for his national team. Manager Gerardo Martino had earlier stated that Messi’s availability would be determined on a game-time basis. However, when the team sheet was unveiled prior to the match at DRV PNK Stadium, Messi’s name was conspicuously absent.

Messi was not the only player missing from the lineup. Jordi Alba, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate, was also unavailable due to an injury of his own. Both players were seen in the stands in regular clothing shortly after the game began. This double blow to Inter Miami CF’s chances of victory was quite significant, as both Messi and Alba have proven themselves to be integral to the team’s success.

A Trophy at Stake

While Inter Miami CF had previously clinched the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament between Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX teams, they were now vying for another major title. Houston Dynamo FC, on the other hand, sought to add a second U.S. Open Cup to their collection after securing the trophy in 2018. The stakes were high, and thousands of eager fans had gathered at the Fort Lauderdale area long before the gates even opened, donning Messi jerseys in support of their beloved player.

Disappointment and Expensive Tickets

Expectations were soaring as fans eagerly awaited the arrival of the team buses. However, to their bitter disappointment, Lionel Messi was nowhere to be seen. This left many fans who had secured tickets at inflated prices on the secondary market feeling disillusioned. Ticket prices, which had been advertised on the team’s social media channels just a day before the match, ranged from $145 to a staggering $4,000 approximately an hour prior to kickoff. The absence of the star player undoubtedly left many fans feeling like they had not received their money’s worth.

Lionel Messi’s arrival in Miami in July had brought immense excitement and optimism to the team and its supporters. However, since returning from international duty with Argentina, he had been plagued by a recurring leg injury related to old scar tissue. Consequently, he had been in and out of the lineup, missing crucial matches. He did not participate in a loss against Atlanta United on September 16 and had to be withdrawn just 30 minutes into a game against Toronto FC on September 20, a match that Miami eventually won 4-0. Alba had also suffered muscle fatigue in the same game, prompting Martino to rule both players out of the upcoming match against Orlando City.

Playoff Hopes Hanging in the Balance

Inter Miami CF’s pursuit of a playoff spot in the MLS Cup standings was jeopardized by the absence of their star player. At present, they are trailing five points behind New York City FC, their Saturday opponents, for the final playoff spot. With only five games remaining and two matches in hand, every point is crucial for Miami. Messi’s significant impact on the team since his arrival highlights the importance of his presence on the field.

The absence of Lionel Messi from Inter Miami CF’s U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo FC proved to be a major setback for the team and a disappointment for countless fans. The high ticket prices and the palpable anticipation leading up to the match only added to the frustration felt by supporters. As Miami’s playoff hopes hang in the balance, the absence of Messi continues to underscore his valuable contribution to the team.


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