Messi won’t be at Vancouver game; star uses time to watch son play

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Inter Miami stars Lionel Messi and Luis Sua�rez, who did not travel for Saturday’s MLS match in Vancouver, made use of their free time watching their sons play in a youth game at Chase Stadium on Friday night.

Messi’s son, Thiago, and SuaÌ�rez’s son, Benjamin, took center stage on their fathers’ home pitch for Inter Miami’s under-12 team against Orlando City U-12 following an opening ceremony to begin the inaugural Inter Miami CF Youth International Cup this weekend.

Messi, SuaÌ�rez and midfielder Sergio Busquets did not travel for Saturday’s game in Vancouver because the club will play games on Wednesday and Saturday the following week, Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said Friday.

The jam-packed schedule – Inter Miami will play three games in a week, and in a stretch of six in 21 days – along with making the longest MLS round trip from South Florida to Vancouver, played into the club’s reasoning to leave the trio behind when they traveled on Thursday night.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC released a statement to fans, with at least 50,000 people expected to attend Saturday’s game at BC Place.

Sadly, they won’t get to see two of the greatest goal scorers in soccer history in Sua�rez, who is second in MLS with 11 goals this season, and the dynamic Messi, who is third with 10 goals but first with 12 assists for Inter Miami.

“What the league usually does when there are games where a team has to travel a long distance is either not have a three-week game or to have two games in the same place or in nearby areas. In this case this has not happened, but it is not a complaint,� Martino said during a Zoom press conference.

“We knew this from the beginning of the season. We knew the calendar perfectly well, and at this point we had to take this decision. Obviously, we understand that the players who will not be here are players who have revolutionized, especially Leo, the MLS. But well, we also have an obligation to take care of the health of the team, right?�

How to watch Vancouver vs. Inter Miami live stream Saturday?

The match begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

TICKETS: Experience Inter Miami in person at Vancouver against the Whitecaps

SHOP: Get the latest Messi and Inter Miami team gear from the MLS Store

When will Messi play again? Here’s his next Inter Miami game

The trio should return to action when Inter Miami hosts Atlanta United on Wednesday, and St. Louis City on Saturday at Chase Stadium – the club’s last two matches before Messi, 36, joins Argentina for Copa America 2024 next month.

Messi could use the time off. He played the entire home match against D.C. United last Saturday, after missing a mid-week game at Orlando City on May 15 to rest a left leg injury sustained in a Saturday match at CF Montreal on May 11.

Sua�rez, who has a history of knee injuries, has remained healthy and key part of Inter Miami’s first-place standing in the MLS Eastern Conference. And Busquets, one of the best midfielders in the sport’s history, has played the most minutes of any Inter Miami player since their 2024 began with a lengthy preseason tour in Dallas, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

“We understand people’s frustration, especially because of their desire to see the players. Sometimes we, as a coaching staff, have to make these uncomfortable decisions that obviously frustrate the people,â€� Martino said. “But we have to look after the institution, the team and our players. So, we took this decision because we believe it is the right one at this moment.â€�

While Inter Miami did not confirm the absences of Messi, Suarez and Busquets until Martino’s press conference, the Whitecaps’ statement included a consolidation for fans: All in-stadium food and beverages will be discounted 50%, and all kids will be provided one free kids meal combo.

“While we haven’t received an official update on the availability of Lionel Messi, Luis SuaÌ�rez and Sergio Busquets for this weekend, we understand they will not make this trip. Unfortunately, we have no control over who plays for our opponent, and it was important for us to communicate to our fans as soon as possible,â€� Whitecaps FC CEO Axel Schuster said. 

“We always want our best players going up against our opponent’s best players, and facing players of the highest pedigree was especially exciting for our team. We know that there will also be a lot of disappointed fans. We remain committed to making this a special experience for everyone. It is still going to be an incredible atmosphere and celebration of soccer for our city. We have amazing fans, we have a good team, and Saturday’s match is a very important home game for us.â€�

Saturday’s game will be the 20th match Inter Miami has played across all competitions this season, but the seventh match Messi will miss (five for injury, and this will be the second for rest purposes).

Messi has played in 27 of 41 total matches overall since joining Inter Miami last July as various leg injuries have limited him in action.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY