Temporary Farewell of Messi at Inter Miami

With Lionel Messi's imminent departure to represent Argentina in the Copa America, Inter Miami faces significant challenges in maintaining its standout performance in the MLS
Atlanta United FC v Inter Miami CF
Atlanta United FC v Inter Miami CF / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Lionel Messi is about to temporarily bid farewell to Inter Miami to represent his nation in the 2024 Copa America. This event not only marks a crucial moment in the Major League Soccer (MLS) season but also tests Inter Miami's ability to sustain its momentum without its main star.

Since his arrival at Inter Miami, Messi has transformed the team from a mid-table participant in the league to a feared powerhouse. With 23 goal contributions (11 goals and 12 assists) in a short span, Messi has not only elevated the team's level of play but also attracted worldwide attention to the MLS. His ability to change the course of a game with a single moment of brilliance has been an invaluable asset for Inter Miami.

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With the need to represent Argentina in the Copa America, Messi will be out of action for up to six weeks. During this period, he will play against Ecuador and Guatemala in friendlies before heading into the tournament's group stage. Messi's absence raises a critical question: Can Inter Miami maintain its stellar performance without him?

Currently, Inter Miami leads the Eastern Conference with 34 points, but the recent 3-1 defeat to Atlanta United showed that the team is vulnerable. This defeat, which halted a 10-game unbeaten streak, highlighted the team's dependence on Messi's magic. Although they have a comfortable margin over the second-placed FC Cincinnati, who also stumbled recently, Messi's departure puts additional pressure on the other players and the coach. The MLS is a competitive league where every point matters. Messi's absence will be a true test for the depth of the squad and the coach's ability to adjust strategies. Players like Josef Martínez and Robert Taylor will need to step up their performance to fill the void left by the Argentine star.

On Saturday, Inter Miami faces St. Louis CITY SC, a team that, despite its recent struggles, should not be underestimated. With only 16 points and an uncomfortable position in 11th place in the Western Conference, St. Louis CITY SC is desperate for a win. They have struggled with a lack of goals and are currently on a three-game losing streak. However, the arrival of German forward Cedric Teuchert in July could provide the necessary impetus to reverse this situation. St. Louis CITY SC prides itself on its tactical system, which prioritizes team cohesion over individual talent. This approach could be especially effective against an Inter Miami without Messi. Additionally, goalkeeper Roman Bürki, with his experience and skill, could frustrate the offensive efforts of the Miami team.

As Inter Miami struggles to maintain its lead, Messi will join the Argentine national team, which has high expectations in the Copa America. Under the guidance of Lionel Scaloni, the 2022 World Cup champions Argentina are one of the favorites to lift the trophy. Messi's presence will be vital to the team's title aspirations, and his absence will be deeply felt at Inter Miami.