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Mar 22, 2024 1:57 pm

Lionel Messi out as Inter Miami visit Red Bulls

Leonardo Campana

Lionel Messi helped Inter Miami ascend to an early lead atop the Eastern Conference standings. And then he got hurt.

Messi has missed the past two games with a right hamstring injury, and with heavy rain expected Saturday afternoon in Harrison, N.J., the star will not play when Inter Miami visit the New York Red Bulls, coach Tata Martino said Friday.

Messi scored three goals as Miami (3-1-1, 10 points) scored eight goals in sandwiching shutout wins over Real Salt Lake and Orlando City around a 1-1 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He scored twice in a 5-0 win on March 2 but sat out a loss to Montreal on March 10 and a 3-1 win over D.C. United last week.

While Messi missed Miami’s past two regular-season matches, he scored a goal apiece in Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Nashville on March 7 and 13, though he exited the latter match early in the second half as a precaution.

Without Messi for last week’s MLS contest, Luis Suarez scored twice in the second half while Leonardo Campana also scored. Suarez’s production is actually exceeding Messi so far as he enters with four goals in MLS competition and six goals across all matches after being the best player in the Brazilian League.

“There was no reason to not be confident how he was going to perform here because two months prior, he had been performing really well,” Martino said of Suarez. “What’s important here is the confidence it generates for the team and the players.”

New York (2-1-1, 7 points) is attempting to rebound from its worst showing of the early going. After earning consecutive 2-1 wins over Houston and Dallas, the Red Bulls were handed a 3-0 loss at Columbus last week.

The Red Bulls took two shots on goal and did not get their first shot on target until the 42nd minute.

“The most important thing for us now is to bounce back and how we bounce back,” New York’s Emil Forsberg said. “We have been developing really well. … We played against a better team. We did some stuff we normally don’t do, so it’s a tough result. We deserved to lose. It’s not a good feeling.”

While the Red Bulls hope Lewis Morgan can help them win as he returns from hip surgery that ended his 2023 season early, they will be without six players, including Forsberg, due to international duty.

Inter Miami also will be without six players for international play.

–Field Level Media

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