·28 September 2023
·28 September 2023
Of course, there was nonstop speculation about the seven-time Ballon d'Or' winner's fitness levels ahead of the contest at DRV PNK Stadium as Miami were looking to capture their second ever trophy.
But unfortunately for Miami and part-owner David Beckham, Messi wasn't included in the squad for the final, as well as longtime Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba, and Miami fell to the Dynamo.
Before the midweek clash, Martino revealed that if it hadn't been a final that Miami were competing in, there would've been no chance that the Argentine played in the game.
However, the fact that Messi was a game-time decision for Miami indicates that he might be back on the field to aid the Herons' hopes for a playoff spot.
"It wasn’t prudent for him to play, that much is clear," Martino said after the game. "Not even to consider him for some minutes, because it was a risk. "He will play in league games going forward, but we will go game by game based on what the medical team tells us."
The former Barcelona boss then explained that fixture congestion is catching up to Miami, the same thing that LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo pointed out in his team's Campeones Cup defeat to Liga MX's Tigres on the west coast that same night.
"What I saw was a worn-out team. If this match went into extra time, the match Inter Miami has on Saturday would have to be played by the technical staff.
"...The reality is that we were eventually going to suffer the consequences of playing so many games," Martino said about Miami's Leagues Cup run couple with MLS games. "We’ve started feeling it in terms of injuries and we’ve started feeling it in terms of functionality."
The Herons sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 32 points and will shift their focus to their September 30 clash with New York City FC as they play the first of their five final regular season games.