Will He Or Won’t He? What to Expect As Inter Miami Aims for U.S. Open Cup

It’s perhaps the biggest question on the minds of Inter Miami and Houston Dynamo fans… Will Lionel Messi play as the Herons aim for their second trophy of the season?
Inter Miami's DeAndre Yedlin battles with Orlando City's Gaston Gonzalez in a recent MLS match.
Inter Miami's DeAndre Yedlin battles with Orlando City's Gaston Gonzalez in a recent MLS match. / Alex Menendez/GettyImages
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Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi came out early against Toronto and skipped the squad’s Florida Derby draw with Orlando City.

So, the biggest question is whether he’ll make an appearance as the Herons try for their second trophy of the year when they host Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final this week.

Let’s get into it.

The Big, Messi Question for Inter Miami

What some are calling an injury may be nothing more than just being tired as Messi came off in the first half of Inter Miami’s 4-0 throttling of Toronto FC a week ago.

After all, was it really worth risking your playmaker against a team that averages less than a goal per match?

Hindsight tells us no. Inter Miami didn’t need him as they went on to paste the Reds, 4-0 at home.

Lionel Messi
Inter Miami's Lionel Messi battles against several Toronto FC defenders in a recent MLS match. / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Where the question of Messi’s play comes into focus is considering the fact that he sat out Inter Miami’s Florida Derby match at Orlando City.

Turns out, they may have needed him a bit more as the Herons battled to a 1-1 draw.

Three points were missed, but hey, it wasn’t a loss.

And it is clear that Inter Miami is a different team with Messi in the lineup.

In the 11 matches he’s played for the Herons; the squad has 30 goals for an average of 2.7 per match. Inter Miami averages 2.81 points per match in all competitions and 2.33 points per Major League Soccer match.

Inter Miami has a 90.9% win rate with Messi in the lineup compared to 35.7% without him.

Also, the Herons’ goals-per-game rate drops to 1.17 when he’s not playing and just 1.17 points per game in all competitions and 0.87 in MLS games.

There’s a big drop-off when Messi isn’t playing, so it’s reasonable to question whether he’s coming on the pitch or not.