·26 September 2023
·26 September 2023
Inter Miami and Houston Dynamo clash at DRV PNK Stadium on September 27 with the US Open Cup title on the line.
Miami boss Gerardo 'Tata' Martino led the Herons to their first ever trophy in the Leagues Cup final against Nashville SC last month, and he'll be looking to do more of the same but in a different competition.
However, there's a catch: Miami may be without two of their summer signings Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba. The two superstars' fitness levels are up in the air after not being included in the squad against Orlando City, prving a huge boost for Martino if they are even able to take part as substitutes.
While Miami have been trending upward since the summer transfer window, their opponents have also been on the come up recently. Led by first-year head coach Ben Olsen, Houston have charged up the Western Conference table and sit in fourth place, just two points off second-place LAFC.
Messi came off injured vs Toronto FC / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
Martino confirmed on Tuesday that Alba is looking more likely to miss the game entirely, while there is still a chance for Messi to take part in the final.
"We will wait until tomorrow. Jordi [Alba] is difficult but with Messi we will wait until tomorrow," Martino said on Tuesday.
The south Florida club shared a photo of Messi taking part in training on X on Tuesday, so it appears there's a chance for him to come off the bench later in the game. Sergio Busquets also returned to training, after failing to feature against Orlando City on Sunday.
Inter Miami predicted lineup vs Houston Dynamo ( 4-3-3 ): Callender; Yedlin, Aviles, Miller, Allen; Arroyo, Busquets, Ruiz; Farias, Campana, Taylor.
Dynamo midfielder Amine Bassi, who leads the team in scoring with nine goals, didn't feature in the 2-1 loss against Sporting Kansas City due to a lower body injury and could make his return against Miami.
Ifunanyachi Achara remains sidelined with a knee injury sustained in late March, and he's expected to return to action in the middle of October.
Even without Messi and Alba, Miami will more than likely be favorites in this one. But don't let that distract you from the incredible transformation that Houston have undergone with Ben Olsen in his first year as head coach.
Designated Player and El Tri legend Hector Herrera, who's scored four goals and added 14 assists in 2023, has helped the Dynamo go on a tremendous run of the form as the regular season winds down. Amine Bassi and Corey Baird have also stepped up for Houston in their bid to return to the MLS postseason.
That being said, Miami still have plenty of talent to get the job done with the likes of Facundo Farias, Leonardo Campana and Robert Taylor up front. It'll be close, but playing at home and the possibility of Messi featuring off the bench in the second half gives Miami and slight edge.