Lionel Messi was missing due to injury as his club Inter Miami fell to a 2-1 defeat to Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup final.
Messi, who arrived the Major League Soccer side this summer after a two-year stay at Paris St-Germain, was instrumental in the team’s advancement to the final.
But the 36-year-old was substituted against Toronto FC last week because of an “old injury” and sat out Miami’s draw at Orlando City on Monday.
Griffin Dorsey and an Amine Bassi penalty put Houston 2-0 up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before Josef Martinez scored a consolation for Miami in stoppage time.
Read Also: Messi rivalry now ‘gone’, says Ronaldo
Miami’s Spain defender Jordi Alba also missed the game because of injury.
Miami manager Gerardo Martino said Argentina World Cup winner Messi’s return to full fitness was the club’s top priority.
“It was not prudent for him to play. We couldn’t even consider playing him for a few minutes because we would be taking risks,” said former Barcelona and Argentina boss Martino.
Martino said Messi, who has scored 11 goals and provided five assists since joining in July, will “certainly play before the league is over”.
The regular MLS season ends on 21 October, with the play-offs taking place from 25 October to 9 December.
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