Lionel Messi not in Inter Miami squad for Atlanta United match

Lionel Messi not in Inter Miami squad for Atlanta United match

Alkass Digital

Lionel Messi did not feature for Inter Miami in Saturday's 5-2 loss at Atlanta United in front of a crowd of 71,635 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after failing to be named in the team's starting lineup or on the substitutes' bench.

Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said that Messi did not travel for the game due to "muscular fatigue."

Messi uncharacteristically left Argentina's World Cup qualifying win last week over Ecuador before the final whistle, and although he made Wednesday's trip to Bolívia, he was not named in coach Lionel Scaloni's 23-man squad for the 3-0 victory at La Paz's high altitude.

Martino said early Friday that Messi was "fine" but he wanted to wait until after the last training before the game to make a decision about the star's availability against Atlanta.

"We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span," Martino said.

Miami's schedule was packed before the international break, and it has a quick turnaround before Wednesday's home match with Toronto FC. Messi will also have more World Cup qualifiers to navigate in October, with CONMEBOL qualifiers against Paraguay (Oct. 12) and Peru (Oct. 17).

Miami's games around that time would both be against Charlotte FC: at home on Oct. 18 and in North Carolina on Oct. 21 to close out the regular season.

Messi trained with the team Thursday and Friday, and although Atlanta plays on turf, the 36-year-old said in his lone news conference last month that he played on turf as a youth and wouldn't have a problem doing it again.