Inter Miami CF head coach Gerardo Tata Martino has confirmed that Lionel Messi will start in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday. Messi has played all 90 minutes for the club in the last five matches and it will be important for Martino to manage the 36-year-old veteran’s workload.
The Argentine took Inter Miami CF to glory in the Leagues Cup as they defeated Nashville SC on penalties by 10-9. After their clash against FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami is all set to play three matches in an interval of 11 days in the Major League Soccer.
“We said that at some point he would have to rest because of a load of minutes played,” Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said before training Monday. “Clearly, Wednesday is not going to be that day. If he does not tell me he wants to rest, he will continue to play.”
Meanwhile, Messi has been in stellar form for Inter Miami as he scored 10 goals in seven matches of the Leagues Cup and thus played a key role in the team’s first-ever trophy.
Before the trophy ceremony, Messi gave the captain’s armband to former skipper DeAndre Yedlin, who led before the Argentine’s arrival and was lauded for his gesture.
“This is not the first time that he has made this type of gesture,” Martino said. “This is the reason why when people say he is the best player in the world, it is not only because of what he does on pitch during a match.
“The same thing happens at training, with him and also with Jordi Alba; they get the younger players together to explain the work and the goals. That really helps the team prepare more quickly.”
Martino was delighted with the team’s collective effort at the Leagues Cup and said they surprised themselves with the winning performance.
“We didn’t think we would be so competitive at this tournament because our team was still under construction,” Martino said. “But, well, we ended up competing and winning and that has made us very happy and optimistic for what is to come.”
If Inter Miami qualifies for the final, they will take on either Real Salt Lake or Houston in the final on September 27.