Lionel Messi Benched In U.S. Open Cup Final, Houston Dynamo Emerge Victorious

Photo: Instagram/Lionel Messi 

In the U.S. Open Cup final, Lionel Messi found himself on the sidelines as Inter Miami CF suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo.

This absence was due to an injury Messi sustained while on international duty with Argentina, and his manager, Gerardo Martino, had indicated that his availability would be a last-minute decision. However, when the lineup was disclosed before the final at DRV PNK Stadium, Messi's name was conspicuously absent.

Martino explained, "It was clearly not prudent for him to play, not even for a few minutes. We couldn't take the risk. But he will surely play again before the end of the season, based on the medical team's feedback."

Photo: Instagram/Lionel Messi 

Messi's former Barcelona teammate, Jordi Alba, also missed the match due to his own injury. Both players were seen in street clothes in the stands shortly after the match began. With these key players sidelined, Miami struggled, and Houston capitalized, scoring two goals in the first half.

Despite Miami's efforts to claw their way back into the game, they lacked the finishing touch and could only manage a late consolation goal. When the final whistle blew, Houston secured their second U.S. Open Cup, adding to their 2018 victory.

Gerardo Martino reflected on the match, saying, "Today, I saw a worn-out and tired team. We were also limited by the injuries, so our performance was affected by those circumstances."

Thousands of fans had gathered in the Fort Lauderdale area, many donning Messi jerseys in support. However, the disappointment was palpable as Messi was absent from the lineup. Ticket prices on secondary markets had soared, reaching up to $4,000 just an hour before the match.

Messi had been dealing with a leg injury related to scar tissue problems, leading to his intermittent appearances in Miami's lineup. Despite this, his impact since joining the team in July had been substantial, with 11 goals and contributions to a total of 16 in games where he played. Miami now faces a playoff race with five games left and hopes to secure a spot, trailing New York City FC by five points with two games in hand.

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Source: ESPN


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