When will Lionel Messi play again?
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino was non-committal when asked about the availability of Messi and fellow standout Jordi Alba for Wednesday’s home match against Toronto FC.
“Messi and Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that we'll see if they're available to play and to what extent,” Martino told reporters Tuesday. "Beginning on Wednesday, we have six matches in 18 days, which is one match every three days, including the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.”
It’s clear Inter Miami is wrestling with several factors that include resting Messi, competing for their second championship next week, and vying for a spot in the MLS playoff race this season.
Messi did practice with Inter Miami on Tuesday.
When does Inter Miami play Toronto FC?
Inter Miami hosts Toronto at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
How to watch Inter Miami vs. Toronto
Inter Miami’s focus is on U.S. Open Cup title
For an MLS franchise that did not compete for titles before Messi’s arrival, you can’t fault Inter Miami for focusing on their second championship of the Messi era.
Inter Miami will play the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 27.
But before that, Inter Miami has two MLS games; following the Toronto match, the team has a road game against rival Orlando City on Sunday.
After beating Nashville in the Leagues Cup final in July, Inter Miami could add a second championship with Messi as its lead orchestrator.
“The final is just one game, and we're in it,” Martino said after Inter Miami’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta United last Saturday.
“It's very tempting to play for a title. Right now we have (eight) games left. And the reality is that it's not a guarantee we'll make the playoffs. It doesn't mean we won't go for it, but it's true that we're focused on the 27th.”
Messi missed two Inter Miami games after Argentina stint
Messi has appeared in 12 matches during a 48-day stretch. In his most recent game on Sept. 7, Messi scored on a free kick in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying in front of Argentine fans at Estadio Más Monumental in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Leo Messi does it again. 🇦🇷🐐pic.twitter.com/0CJREKWvYg
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 8, 2023
Since that 2026 World Cup qualifying match, which Messi exited in the 89th minute due to fatigue, Messi has missed his last two games.
Messi watched from the bench as Argentina beat Bolivia 3-0 on Sept. 12.
How did Messi perform in his last match with Inter Miami?
Messi was held scoreless for the second time with Inter Miami, but he assisted on two goals in a 3-1 win against LAFC on Sept. 3 in Los Angeles.
Inter Miami was able to beat Sporting Kansas City 3-2 on Sept. 9 while Messi was away with Argentina.
Where does Inter Miami stand in the MLS playoff race?
As Martino alluded to, Inter Miami has eight games remaining, seven in MLS play to close the regular season.
Inter Miami has 28 points through 27 games played, and is seven points behind the ninth-place team, D.C. United.
Any more losses, however, would be devastating for Inter Miami’s MLS postseason hopes.
POSTSEASON PATH NOT EASY: How can Messi, Inter Miami make MLS playoffs?
What is Inter Miami's remaining 2023 schedule?
Sept. 20: vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 24: at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
Sept. 27: vs. Houston Dynamo FC (U.S. Open Cup final), 8:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 30: vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 4: at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 7: vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 18: vs. Charlotte FC, 8 p.m. ET
Oct. 21: at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m. ET
Like the rest of MLS, all of Inter Miami's games are available to watch via the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV — except for the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 27, which will be available to stream on the CBS Sports Golazo Network. Keep in mind that should Messi lead Inter Miami to the MLS playoffs, some of those postseason games also could be broadcast on FOX.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will Lionel Messi play today? How to watch Inter Miami vs. Toronto FC