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Lionel Messi availability in question as Miami hosts Rapids

Lionel Messi availability in question as Miami hosts Rapids

Sports

Messi has not played since March 13

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(Reuters) - Is Lionel Messi playing this weekend?

That's the question Inter Miami (3-2-2, 11 points) will need to address for as long as the global superstar sits out with a hamstring strain.

Miami fans hope Messi will be back on the field Saturday when the Colorado Rapids (2-2-2, eight points) visit Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Messi has not played since March 13, when he saw 50 minutes of action in Inter Miami's Champions Cup match against Nashville SC before leaving with his hamstring injury.

He was considered a match-day decision on Wednesday when Inter Miami hosted Mexican power Monterrey in the Champions Cup. But Messi did not dress, and Monterrey stunned Miami 2-1 by scoring the game-winning goal in the 89th minute.

"We had said Leo will be day to day, and he was not ready to play today, it would have been too much of a risk," Miami coach Tata Martino told reporters.

"He is feeling better each day, and we will re-evaluate for the Colorado game and the return leg against Monterrey next week."

Messi scored three goals in three matches to begin the 2024 MLS regular season. Teammate Luis Suarez has tallied five goals, including Miami's only goal in a 1-1 draw with New York City FC last week.

This will mark the Rapids' first match against Miami since the latter entered the league in 2020. Colorado coach Chris Armas will need to prepare his players for all contingencies.

"Not sure exactly how they line up. We know they've done different things," Armas said. "Three in the back, four in the back, with Messi, without Messi, but regardless they're a really good team and an even better team at home."

The Rapids are faring better than they did a year ago, when they finished dead last in the Western Conference.

They had a thrilling 3-2 win over favored Los Angeles FC last week as new signing Djordje Mihailovic scored his first two goals for Colorado in the 83rd and 89th minutes to guide the comeback.

Rapids forward Jonathan Lewis (knee) and midfielder Jasper Loffelsend (hamstring) are expected to miss Saturday's match, Armas said. Midfielder Connor Ronan (knee) will miss at least another month.