Soccer-Inter Miami to wait until 'last moment' to decide on Messi fitness for Cup final

FILE PHOTO: Sep 20, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) runs with the ball against the Toronto FC during the first half at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Inter Miami will wait until the "last moment" to see if Lionel Messi is fit to play in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo, coach Gerardo Martino said.

Messi was substituted in Inter's league match against Toronto FC before halftime with an unspecified injury, and missed Sunday's clash against rivals Orlando City.

The Argentina captain is a doubt for the U.S. Open Cup final when his team will aim to claim their second title after winning the Leagues Cup last month.

"We are going to wait for Leo until tomorrow, until the last moment," Martino told a news conference on Tuesday. "I'm going to sit down with him, see what his feelings are (...) We'll probably come to an agreement tomorrow.

"There are three issues here: there is the player, then the final, and then what comes next. We have to try to make the decision, there are always risks, but we have to reduce them."

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 11 goals and provided five assists in 12 games for Inter Miami since his arrival from Paris St Germain in July.

The Miami side are yet to lose with Messi on the pitch and Martino said he would not consider playing the 36-year-old if it were not a cup final.

"It's 90 or 120 minutes that stand between you and a title," said the Argentine boss. "It's logical. If it was any other kind of game we wouldn't take any risks."

(Reporting by Janina Nuno Rios and Javier Leira; Editing by Toby Davis)

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