Inter Miami vs CF Montreal: Messi out, Suarez on bench in MLS as Alvarez goal opens scoring

Lionel Messi playing MLS football for Inter Miami

Lionel Messi was left out of Inter Miami’s matchday squad and Luis Suarez started on the bench for the first time since joining the club as the MLS side fell behind early on against CF Montreal on Sunday.

Ex-Barcelona strikers Messi and Suarez had started all four of Miami’s previous games this season. Another of their former team-mates at Camp Nou, Sergio Busquets, was also named among the substitutes.

“We all know Leo and he is a player who wants to play every game,” head coach Javier Morales said on Saturday. “We will have a conversation with him, see how he feels, see how he is and try to decide what is best for him.

“He has played 90 minutes every game and we will make the best decision, thinking about the future.”

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Miami vs Montreal: Early goal blow for hosts

Miami made a poor start to the game, falling behind to Fernando Alvarez’s 13th-minute header as the 20-year-old scored his first MLS goal from a corner.

Messi missed a friendly in Hong Kong with a hamstring injury in February and sustained a knock in Miami’s 2-2 Concacaf Champions League draw at Nashville SC on Thursday after absorbing a hard tackle on a shin.

The 36-year-old has scored four goals during the campaign and was joined on the scoresheet against Nashville by pre-season signing Suarez, who is 37.

Morales described Suarez’s physical condition as “fine”. “Luis, Leo, all of the players have been playing a lot of minutes, especially in this stretch of matches,” said the coach.

“We have to manage it the best we can because it’s a long season and we’re just starting. We can’t do anything crazy. Same as Leo: we will talk to Luis and see what is best for the team.”

Defensive midfielder Federico Redondo made his debut in the game with Nashville and started against Montreal, while Leonardo Campana – Miami’s joint top-scorer in the 2023 season, alongside Messi – was named in attack.

Jordi Alba, who won the 2014/15 Uefa Champions League and six league titles at Barca, began the game at left-back but could not help his side preserve their previously unblemished defensive record at home.

Inter started the day at the top of the Eastern Conference, having won two and drawn one of their first three league matches.

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